Windows into the World Below

A mussel-festooned reef frames up the sky above and the sand below. In the foreground, a sand-filled tide pool fills another frame. Its surface is a window into the world below. Lying on my belly, the view discloses intimate anemone details. Windows into the tide pool world are rarely this clear, and never for long.…

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A Pyrosome Beach Cast

So many sea creatures we don’t know about until a beach cast drops them at our feet. It happened again on December 13th, 2016. When I topped the foredune just ahead of high tide I didn’t know a mystery awaited in the drift line. I had to get on Twitter right away to find out…

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Beach Hoppers Rejoice Over Drift Macrophytes

A foggy morning with low visibility and muted colors and sounds. Under these conditions you’ll find more action down at your feet than off in the distance. On this morning the air was still and warm. Sunrise added little more than glare and from the foredune the atmosphere was as oppressive as the view was…

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Thinopinus pictus, a Predatory Intertidal Staphylinid

If you walk the drift line you’ll want to get to know Thinopinus pictus, the pictured rove beetle. Pictured roves roam the damp sand between the swash and dry sand ambushing beach hoppers. They’re most active at night, but the odds of running across one on your morning walk are high. You’ll have to watch…

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Calling Up Connections

It’s been a good year for barnacles and bay mussels. Billows of goose barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus, proliferated freely. Blue mussels, Mytilus trossulus, a delicacy for predators, settled abundantly out of the plankton. Adult acorn barnacles, Balanus glandula, grew so fast they crowded each other off the rocks creating open space for recruits. To maintain balance in the face these…

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Comparative Photos Show Rocky Intertidal Changes Between 2013 and 2016

With the last bout of sea star wasting syndrome eastern Pacific starfish took a big hit. I describe the progression at this intertidal site in A Peek at Pisaster After Two Years of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. After three years their numbers are still down. Removal experiments have shown we can expect changes in rocky…

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Stranded Greenling Raises Eternal Question: To Assist or Not Assist?

Last week, thanks to a good low tide, I got to explore a stand of Ahnfeltiopsis. The surf was bigger than I wished, but the grove was upon me, and my attention was on the sand-loving red algae people call forked seaweed. While I was solving seaweeds, the swash left a 75 mm prize flopping…

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Recruitment in Barnacles Looks Like This

Last fall this vertical rock wall lay buried under a smothering layer of sand. The resident barnacles, Balanus glandula, couldn’t tolerate it. Winter surf removed the sand revealing empty B. glandula shells and something more; a dense settlement of new recruits. Open space doesn’t stay open long in the in the exposed rocky intertidal. Larvae arrive in…

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Dosima fascicularis, A Pelagic Barnacle, Builds its Own Float

My first in-person encounter with buoy barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, came just a few days ago on March 26, 2016. People call them buoy barnacles or own-float goose barnacles. The names make sense because D. fascicularis can produce a foamy gas-filled float, alleviating the need to hitch-hike. The color, according to photos I’ve seen, varies from creamy…

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Waiting Out High Tide With an Olympic Gull

Waiting for the tide to turn takes patience. My companion on the wait for a high tide last November was this large gull. I thought my patient partner was a herring gull, but I took a closer look and changed my mind. The subject of my weight(less) contribution has intermediate traits – a dark but…

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