Invitation to a Tidepool Treasure Hunt

Exposed kelp, brown, in the foreground, and green seagrass beyond, signal low tide, an invitation to treasure hunt.

Sea cabbage, Hedophyllum sessile, shines like gold in the morning sunlight. This specimen’s lacy, ridged blades resemble the outer leaves of Savoy cabbage. The cabbage-like look is a clue that the habitat is semi-protected. In surf-pounded settings, the blades become smooth and strap-like.

A painted anemone, Urticina, hides away under an overhang, tentacles retracted, awaiting the turn of the tide. In the background, sharing the protection of the overhang, a lovely hydroid, Aglaophenia.

The sudden appearance of a watchful skeleton shrimp (Caprellidae), ready to strike, is startling. This less than cuddly shrimp-like amphipod appeared, ghost-like, out of nowhere, while I concentrated my gaze on the white-and-orange-tipped nudibranch, Janolus fuscus (bottom center).

Morning sunlight ignites the fire in an Amphissa on the move. This is a wrinkled amphissa, A. columbiana, trekking over a spring Odonthalia, one of those inscrutable red seaweeds.

Soranthera ulvoidea‘s radiant globes glimmer like jewels. S. ulvoidea is an epiphyte on Neorhdomela and Odonthalia. Both hosts are visible here. These studded gemstones are hitched to Odonthalia sprigs originating near center frame.

The turn of the tide ended my hunt, protecting other treasures for another day. Still, I’m grateful, in the short time I had, to have encountered these varied riches. I made all these finds between 7:39 and 10:16 am on June 4th, 2019.

Treasure Hunt