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Tide Pooling

 

The Tide is Out

The Tide is Out

The tides can range up to 20 feet in Halibut Cove. One morning, Michele and I signed up to go Tide Pooling with group leader, Becca, who doubles as the manager of Stillpoint Lodge.  At first glance, it looks like just a muddy mess, but

Anemone

Anemone

Right away, Becca found this small anemone, attached to a piece of the giant kelp that was exposed in the low tide.

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

What an exciting outing this was!  I learned so much, like the fact that these animals are not called starfish at all, but rather sea stars.  They don’t like being picked up and turned upside down either.  So, with little hairlike tentacles, they grab onto the hairs on your arms in an attempt to right themselves.

Sea Star

Sea Star

Much better now!  Here’s the not-so-little sea star right side up shortly before Becca returned him/her to the sea.

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea stars are predatory echinoderms, members of the class Asteroidea.  This four-legged fellow must have lost one of his legs somehow.  Although it should grow back, it hasn’t yet.  Nevertheless, he was chomping on a mussel.  Sea stars extrude their stomachs into the animals they eat, sucking out the edible portions.

Michele and the sea star

Michele and the sea star

Michele was surprised by the grip of this sea star.

Sunflower sea star

Sunflower sea star

On another trip down to the tide pool, we unearthed two Sunflower Sea Stars.   These are the largest and possibly the and fastest sea star in the world.  It can move up to 3 meters per minute, and has been known to travel at least 3 km.  It has over 15,000 tube feet, the little tentacle-like protrusions that help it to move.  Found mostly in the north eastern Pacific, they are voracious predators, feeding on bivalves, snails, urchins, other asteroids, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, and crabs (in other words, just about anything it wants!).

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding one of these sea stars is rather like holding a large handful of wet slime.  The little (yes, he’s still a little one!) one did not appreciate being out of the sea.

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

This one didn’t like being upside down either, but enabled us to see all the little feet trying to right the animal.  What amazing creatures these are.

Decorator Crab

Decorator Crab

Last, but not least, Lucas unearthed this Decorator Crab from the tide pool.  These little crabs ‘decorate’ themselves with various materials to help camouflage themselves from predators, like the sunflower sea star.  Our excursion introduced us to the wonders that lurked beneath the surface of the water right at water’s edge!  Definitely educational!

Stay tuned, more stitching ahead . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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