Here Comes the Tide

The incoming tide washes over starfish, anemones, and mussels

I had many thoughts as the ocean covered my feet as I photographed the incoming tide washing over the starfish, anemones, and mussels attached to this large rock. My first thought was that I need to get some tall waterproof boots (which reminds me, I need to get some tall waterproof boots). But mostly I was just amazed that any creatures could survive in this spot, sometimes in air, sometimes in water, and that I could stand in this spot for a hundred years and still not fully understand the little ecosystem right in front of me.

The Lined Lair

A lined shore crab sits on damp rocks in front of barnacle shells

I was surprised to find how relaxing both of my short hiking trips were earlier this year as it normally takes me a bit longer to decompress from work before I can begin truly enjoying my time off. Perhaps it was partly because my most stressful project had finished. Partly because both destinations were within six hours of the house and thus didn’t require a lot of driving. But I also had a lot of fun each day, each with its unique charms, such as going out to the beach at Lagoon Creek in Redwood National Park and finding a lair of lined shore crabs.

While lair may not be accurate, this one does look like it’s guarding its lair with emptied barnacle shells and shadows behind it. There were a handful of crabs in this one little still-damp spot in the tide pools, the water not far off, and watching them and some nearby oystercatchers made for a delightful time on my spur-of-the-moment hike on the Yurok Loop Trail, my first visit to this section of the park.

The Yawning Gull

A seagull yawns while standing on a bed of goose barnacles as the tide comes in

On my previous visit to the redwoods I was only planning on visiting the forests but was surprised to learn that part of the parks include beaches. This time I deliberately spent time in the tide pools, mostly at Enderts Beach in Crescent City but also a little bit further south near False Klamath Cove. This yawning gull atop a bed of goose barnacles was at Enderts Beach as the tide was rolling in, taken on my last morning while hiking back to the car, ready to start my trip back to Oregon (after one last brief hike in the redwoods on the way). I planned the trip to coincide with days with nice low tides after sunrise.

Much like a short trip to the Olympics in March, this short trip to the redwoods in June re-charged my batteries more than I was expecting. Partly from the time spent in these tremendous forests and partly from the variety of hikes in the parks, as both include beaches with tide pools. It’s hard to take in how many different types of life you can observe all within a few miles.

The Missing Claw

A lined shore crab with a missing claw

One of the reasons I visited tide pools on my trips to Olympic National Park and Redwood National and State Parks was to get more familiar with the animals that live there, so I’d be better prepared to photograph them on future visits. On my visit to the beach along the Yurok Loop Trail (starts at the Lagoon Creek picnic and rest area off the highway in Redwood National Park) I was delighted to find a handful of crabs but didn’t know anything about them or even if they were all the same species. I looked them up when I got home and learned they were lined shore crabs, a new species for me.

I was so excited as I photographed them that I didn’t even notice until I got home that this one is missing one of its large front claws. Ever observant, that’s me. I was surprised to learn that although it does sometimes eat small animals, the lined shore crab feeds primarily on algae it scrapes off rocks as I had I assumed the fearsome looking claws were primarily used for combat.

Chocolate on the Rocks

A gathering of chocolate limpets on a rock in the tide pools of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

A gathering of chocolate limpets (I think but don’t quote me on it) on a rock in the tide pools of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. I intended to reach the tide pools at low tide that morning but I wasn’t feeling well and arrived a bit late, missing the lowest tide but still able to see some of the creatures higher up in the pools. I haven’t spent much time photographing tide pools but I’m interested in doing more of it, so part of this visit (and a later visit to the redwoods) was getting some experience in the tide pools, learning to see what creatures are there so that on future visits I’ll have a better idea of what to photograph.

Even though there weren’t many pictures on it, my tide pool page on my old site was one of my most popular. I do miss sometimes the structured pages of that site so perhaps I’ll bring them back for some animals. They’re probably too much work for me to replicate the entire structure of the old site, and I’m not sure how to even do it with this setup, but I’ll look into it when time allows. If I do it pictures of the pets and of tide pools would probably be first.

Urchincy

A group of purple sea urchins have carved out holes for themselves in a tide pool at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

A group of purple sea urchins have carved out holes for themselves in a tide pool at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon. I’m fascinated how a seemingly immobile creature that looks like a prickly cat toy could do such a thing, something I could never do, and yet they can’t remove the driftwood that the tide drops over them.

Give urchins opposable thumbs and they’d probably conquer the world.