Thursday, October 16, 2008

Low tides and x-rated gastropods

There have been some nice low tides over the past couple of days and they will extend into the weekend. The best part, for us non-morning people, is that they are at a civilized time of day. It really is a joy to be down on the beach around sunset poking around in tidepools.

Friday has a low of -0.5 at 6.32pm, Saturdays has a low of -0.3 at 7.38 and Sunday's is getting a bit late at -0.1 at 8.56pm.

Anything below 0 is sufficient to reveal interesting tidepools and critters and with lows in the negative range the viewing is probably good for an hour or two before and after low tide. Your best bets are either right at Campus Point, or, better, Devereux Point (Coal Oil Point) and the area between there and IV. However the best spot, IMHO, are the reefs between Elwood Bluffs and Haskell's Beach (now better known as the beach by the Bacara resort). For a weekend outing you could cycle (or drive) west on Hollister until just before it crosses the railway and ends at the Freeway. Take the well signposted turn to Bacara resort. Go about half a mile down here to the public parking lot (free). You can leave your bike here and walk a hundred meters down to the beach. Turn left (East) and at a low tide you can walk for miles, largely in solitude. The tidepools start getting really good just past the two stubby piers you can see and keep getting better and better.

Let us know what you find, or better, post some pictures. There's a really nice tide pool website at Santa Barbara City College with a great many of the beautiful pictures taken right by UCSB campus so these are the plants and animals you will see. Check out the 'Treasures' page. These are some of the organisms you might catch sight of with such a low tide.

If any of you want to organize a group trip then just post a meeting time and place in the comments.

The picture above is the best find from our last tide pooling trip - the California Brown Sea Hare - Aplysia californica. Each sea hare is both male and female, but they cannot fertilize their own eggs. Dozens pile up for sea hare orgies. They mate in lines and circles: each is male to the one in front and female to the one behind, so each is both a mother and a father. That is one x-rated gastropod....

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