I love the tide pools. I don’t know what it is that draws me to them but I know my children enjoy this nature location just as much. Green Bubbles loves the rock scrambling and Little Miss likes to puddle jump and eventually end up in the water, no matter how cold or unprepared we are for it! (Thankfully I was prepared this day and we had a change of clothes in the car for her).
The kids spent little time finding a great pool to play in. Little Miss was wet almost immediately!
Another mom spotted this awesome sea slug. I love the blue dots in the stripe down his back.
Here are a lot of sea anemones. While they are beautiful in the water with color waving tentacles waiting to catch an unsuspecting fish, above water they camouflage into what looks like squishy, grayish blobs with bits of broken shell stuck all over. Some of the smaller ones can be hard to spot sometimes so it’s always wise to be careful when navigating the rocks so you don’t step on the sea life that may not be presently in the sea at that moment.
Here we have a sea urchin shell. While sea urchins normally look like those spikey purple beasts of the tide pools, after they die they leave behind their exoskeleton. The Echinoblog has a great post all about the differences between sea urchins and sand dollars that is very interesting if you want to learn more. We found a lot of these shells at the tide pools! The one above Green Bubbles found all by himself and was one of the more intact shells we found.
And, as with any beach adventure, the sea gulls were everywhere. I normally dislike sea gulls. They are brazen at this beach and have no hesistation picking through your bags when you walk away looking for your lunch to steal. It doesn’t even have to be left out for these birds. They pull things out of your bags, rip through plastic bags, grab paper bags with their beaks and fly away. I’ve learned through experience to back everything into backpacks that snap or zip closed to keep the birds away from our lunches!
However, I did notice today that we had two types of gulls trying to open our backpacks. I was curious enough to try and figure out the differences. Since we went in January, both gulls are common to our area only in the winter time and travel north in the summer for breeding.
This is the Thayer’s Gull, easily identified by his pink legs. He also has a yellow beak with a red spot on the lower mandible. They winter on the California coasts and aren’t really seen anywhere but the coast line. They travel quite far for migration, in the summer breeding up in the far north Arctic in Canada.
This is the Heermann’s Gull. His beak is a redish orange color and his legs are black. A striking difference to the Thayer’s Gull above. They are the only North American gull to breed south of the United States and travel north. After breeding they move into Canada in July, but are back in California and Mexico in December. The gull in the background is also a Heermann’s Gull. It’s his first winter so he’s a younger bird. With age he will look like the gull in the foreground.