A Small and Beautiful World

Mussels and barnacles live crowded together in a tide pool at Enderts Beach in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California

In this crowded space in a tide pool at Enderts Beach in California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, goose barnacles fill the gaps left by California mussels while acorn barnacles attach directly to the mussels themselves. The snails and black limpets are a little more mobile but all have evolved some sort of hard enclosure to protect against drying out at times like these when the tide has receded, and also against the birds who prey upon them. They may not be able to evolve fast enough to survive their biggest enemy as we not only warm the oceans but acidify them too. But for the moment I will bear them witness, this beautiful little world that exists only in the narrowest strip up and down our coasts, halfway on land and halfway in water.

Assorted Candies

A black turban snail nestles into a gap between aggregating anemones int a tide pool at Enderts Beach in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

When I visited the tide pools in Redwood National and State Parks, I didn’t know much about most of the creatures I was photographing, I was just taking pictures of things that caught my eye and planned to read up on them later. I was taken by the shapes and colors of these aggregating anemones that were clinging to a rock at Enderts Beach, like a box of assorted candies. Then I noticed where a black turban snail had nestled down between the anemones and took my favorite picture of them. Once I looked more closely I noticed other little creatures in the scene, from the goose barnacles in the upper right to the black limpets on the snail’s shell (almost invisible since they were on the dark part of the shell).