Monday, June 11, 2018

Best Tidepooling

When I started my service term at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, I found that I had been left a letter of advice from Brooke Askey, the AmeriCorps member in my position before me. It contained all sorts of wisdom and included one sentence in particular that intrigued me: “Salt Creek Recreation Area has the best tidepooling I’ve ever seen.”

My first view of the recreation area

So I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have been looking forward to our Salt Creek Education Program with the Blue Heron Middle School 8th graders since my first day here.

PTMSC Education Coordinator Carolyn Woods showing off some seagrass

The Blue Heron students have been going to Salt Creek for many years now accompanied by PTMSC staff, AmeriCorps and volunteers to do a monitoring project that looks at how water quality relates to efforts to protect salmon habitat. They collect data at Salt Creek with their teachers and look at plants, animals and substrates in the intertidal zone with us.

Students surveying their plot

It was so fun to watch the students test out their scientific field surveying skills and discover their monitoring plots. Often when students first arrived at their plots they would proclaim with disappointment that there was nothing there. However, once they were encouraged to look more closely and move the top layer of seaweed, they were amazed at the beautiful world of bizarre life forms they uncovered.

We found tidepools full of juvenile sculpins darting between shadows, mating spotted leopard nudibranchs, vast swaths of mussels and barnacles, little shore crabs at every turn and the biggest gumboot chiton I’ve ever seen!

Volunteer Sue Long examining a large gumboot chiton

I can now say with confidence that Brooke was right and I will pass on this tidbit to the next AmeriCorps in my position: Salt Creek Recreation Area has the best tidepooling I’ve ever seen.

AmeriCorps James Swanson and I, clearly excited about the inter-tidal zone! 
Photo by Jo Ferrero 

Written by PTMSC AmeriCorps Citizen Science Educator Lily Evanston 

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