Living on the Pacific coast gives every day its own magic. The ocean is always changing. Wind-tossed and choppy, bright and welcoming, stormy and turbulent, grey and flat, high tide or low tide.
Today was a low-tide, grey-flat day, one of my favorite combinations. So I took my dog down to the beach at the end of our street. It’s a Brigadoon beach, appearing only at the lowest tides, so a chance to visit is always a special occasion.
And this visit was extra-special because I’ve never been there when the tide was this low. See that big rock in the middle of the beach? It’s usually covered in water. On most low-tide days the waves allow you to examine the end furthest from the ocean. Today the water was so low I could walk all the way around it.
And what an incredible rock it is. Thousands of creatures lives there! I wish I could have snapped a photo of the little black crabs I saw, but every time I raised my phone, the camera-shy beasties skittered away.
But luckily, the other animals don’t move around as much. Like this guy. I think it’s a chiton?
And these barnacles. A little spooky looking, like monster claws.
These mussels were poking plant-like out of the sand.
And there were sea anemones everywhere. This one has its own grotto.
And this one was growing like a flower in a pool on top of the rock.
And there were starfish! Which made my heart lighter than it’s felt in a while. You see, west coast starfish are disappearing, killed off by a horrible disease that basically dissolves them. When we moved to Santa Cruz a few years ago we saw starfish at every low tide. And then we didn’t see them anymore. It felt like they’d melted away overnight. In fact, we assumed that they had. But they’re here!
I found twelve. So maybe they’re recovering? Or maybe in a warming ocean they moved a little further out into the deeper water, revealed only by big minus tides? Whatever the reason, I was thrilled to see them. And look at this one. It’s living in its own little cave!
And it wasn’t just the big rock that was teeming with life. Overhead there was an airshow of seagulls and pelicans.
On the cliffs I found families of periwinkles.
Off the coast I could see the spouts of grey whales, which are swimming past my neighborhood with their calves right now, hugging the coast on their way north to their summer feeding grounds. It’s hard to get a photo, especially with just an iPhone, but I tried. The dark speck on the right is someone in a kayak, and the dark speck on the left is a whale.
And down in the sand there were treasures like this one…
And Chauncey the dog, of course, digging holes, racing in circles and dancing around in a daze of doggy-beach-bliss.
Rachel Carson said “The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.” I am blessed to witness that strange beauty every single day. Thanks for coming along with me!