Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's good to be home

After the foray into the vibrant colours and light of Mazatlan, I've come back to the clouds, the rain, and the paler spring colours of home; lilacs and pinks and periwinkle blues. And down on the shore, instead of creamy sand, there are rocks covered in blackish seaweeds and sprinkled with snails.

It's good to be home.

And there are colours to be found on the grey beach; it just takes a bit of careful walking and rock-flipping.

Water's edge, with rockweed.

The tide was out, and when I hiked down to the edge, I found that it was in that mid-stage, neither going nor coming; the water was still, the floating seaweeds fixed in place. A good time to be turning over rocks that are usually underwater.

And, of course, there were zillions of crabs and snails and hermits. Under most of the larger stones, one or two gunnels were hiding; they flopped about madly as soon as the stone began to move, and by the time I had put it aside, they were squirming under the next. A kelp crab saw me first, and pinched my fingers; clams squirted their little fountains as I approached. One got me in the face.

Under several stones, I found tiny sea urchins, pink and yellow, the largest barely an inch across.

Sea urchin and purplish seaweed.

Assorted scraps of seaweed. The pale, lacy one is a torn and bleached sea braid; the others are fresh.

The Monterey sea lemon, aka false lemon peel nudibranch, Doris montereyensis.

The black-tipped tubercules distinguish this nudibranch from the "true" or "noble" sea lemon, which is all yellow.

These will grow up to 6 inches long, but the largest I've found this spring was still under 3 inches.

Another view. The two yellow bumps in front are the rinopores, sensory horn-shaped projections, shut down while he's out of water. In back, once the tide comes in, he will extend his feather gills.

Another Monterey, much smaller, bright yellow. With a frilled whelk, two other snails, the arm of a starfish, spiral tubeworms pasted over with flatworm eggs, and the remains of bryozoan colonies. No space is ever wasted.

Barnacle-eating nudibranchs, with their egg ribbons. These grow to just over an inch long; the largest here is about that.

Interesting egg masses that I can't find an id for.

Yellow whelk egg cases.

Juvenile red rock crab who thinks he's hiding.

Pink-tipped green anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, mostly shut down, waiting for the tide to come in.

At the foot of several very large rocks, the water has carved out shaded pools a few inches deep, even at low tide. When I approached, I could see the water ripple as schools of tiny sculpins dashed for cover, usually rousting their companions out of the chosen spot, so that they, in turn, had to hurry to find a new one. Sort of like a game of musical chairs, where the music never stopped until I went away.

Greenish tidepool sculpin. Others were grey; one was a reddish brown.

Big plumose anemone in a tide pool. And something else ...

Those red and yellow things at the upper left? I'll have photos of them tomorrow.


  1. The tidal zone is always so interesting, great pictures.

  2. Glad you're back! I love the stillness of low tide that you're describing... As I look at your photos, I can hear the squishy silence of feet stepping over kelp, punctuated by the squirting orchestra of clams.


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