What's going on down there, anyway?
|Thankful for my fellow Bendy Bunch partners-in-adventure!|
Did you know that over half of the American population lives within 50 miles of the ocean? As Port Townsend residents, we are lucky enough to live directly on the coast. Much of our local peninsular coast is also relatively undeveloped, providing us with infinite opportunities to grow as naturalists by getting outside. It is easy to get caught up in the routine hustle and bustle of life and forget that we are continually surrounded by endless natural beauty; of this, I am sometimes certainly guilty. Every time I enter the wilderness, I am re-shocked by the sheer existence of it all. Regardless of whether or not I am physically or emotionally present, Nature steadfastly is (though in an increasingly industrialized world, this will soon be an even more distant reality, but that's for another blog post).
|Lest we forget to treasure what lies below our flippers and boots.|
Pictured: one of the two blood stars that were spotted during the walk.
We were thrilled to only see healthy sea stars!
Needless to say, it was inspiring have 40 people brave a particularly chilly February evening in the pouring rain for PTMSC's first Low Tide Walk at Night of 2016 at North Beach.
|Katie Conroy, our Marine Mammal Stranding Network AmeriCorps,|
points out a sculpin to a low tide walker.
Why explore the intertidal zone at night?
When we see them at low tide, many organisms look drastically different than they do underwater. At night, though, we can see some animals that we wouldn't normally see during the day at all because they are nocturnal, or spend the daylight hours in deeper ocean zones. Moreover, some animals like crabs become more active during the night because they are less likely to be eaten by a predator. Thus, tide pooling at night allows people to see animals or behaviors they might literally never see otherwise.
There are few things as fitting to illustrate the importance of being physically present and always open to discovery as nighttime tidepooling. Something about stumbling around with flashlights in the dark makes every animal, from anemone to sculpin, a treasured find.
A beautiful sculpin. Sculpins belong to
the diverse Family Cottidae, which has 200 species in Puget Sound alone!
|I spotted a bonus science angel(!): Rebeccca, our Marine Exhibit|
AmeriCorps and naturalist extraordinaire, looks at a sample of seawater
swarming with zooplankton.
ZOFIA KNOREK is the Citizen Science Educator and an AmeriCorps Member at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center