Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tidepooling

Campus point is a very convenient place to see some nice intertidal species and some good zonation. What it lacks is some good tidepools where you can spend a whole day hunting for those more elusive creatures - sea hares, nudibranchs (pictured is the Spanish Shawl nudibranch, Flabellina iodinea), octopus etc.

Any tide 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. You can pick up printed tide tables at bait shops, boat supply places etc or access them online (there are apps for your phone and gadgets/widgets for pc's and apples ) or use Saltwater Tides.

There are several good local spots for tidepooling. Some require a bit of planning but all are accessible by bike and you should check them all out.

Devereux Point (Coal Oil Point) and the area between there and IV is the most convenient spot for most of you. The point itself has some decent sized rocks and is easy to get to from campus. Straight down Del Playa and keep going on the path along the bluffs when DP runs out. Or just follow the surfers. The flat area of rock that is exposed at a low tide between Coal Oil Point and IV is good for tidepooling.

A better spot is the reef 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 heading back towards campus. The tidepools start getting really good just past the two stubby piers you can see and keep getting better and better. If you get a friend to drop you off you could walk all the way back to campus. I think it would be about 4 miles from Bacara back to campus.

Or for a summer adventure check out the Naples coast. Follow the instructions above to Haskells beach at the Bacara resort but head West on the beach (ie turn right away from campus). You'll go past the prominent pier used to ferry workers to and from the oil platforms. Then past a pleasant beach with, as you will see, the appropriate name Driftwoods. There's a surf break here so you'll see the odd surfer. As you leave this beach you may not see anyone again for several hours because there is no further public access until you get to El Capitan State Beach. At a low tide there is then several miles of fabulous tidepooling. You'll also see lots of seals, cormorants and other critters. About 3 miles from Bacara you'll come to Dos Pueblos Canyon, with a somewhat incongruous trailer almost on the beach. That's a good point to turn around if you don't want to get cut off by the tide! You need to time this one right, I usually hit the oil pier by Bacara about an hour and a half before low tide and turn around at low tide (assuming a -1 low). It's 3 miles from Bacara to Dos Pueblos Canyon.

You can find some maps of this part of the coast at the SaveNaples website (scroll down this document for cool aerial photographs/maps). This beautiful part of the Gaviota coast is under imminent threat of development although it looks like the current financial situation has both affected the developer and reduced demand for the proposed luxury homes.

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.

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