Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Day Started Cold, With Intermittent Snow

Lifelong science groupie/wannabe reporting in about the Oceanic Inquiries (community education class) field trip to go birding and tidepooling and searching for teensy invertebrates in the tidal sand/mud at Salt Creek County Park (map).

Salt Creek, Low Tide, February 26, 2011 (Click for larger image)(and eagle)

Two of the people in the class were the youth education and volunteer trainers with Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, so we got to travel all together in one of the Sanctuary vans, and stopped at the OCNMS/NOAA warehouse on the highway to borrow knee boots for two of the people who hadn't come prepared. Wandering around the warehouse stuffed with boats, survival suits, sampling equipment, etc etc it occurred to me that I have wanted to contribute to science all my life long. I am such a groupie for science that even a big rubber tub full of boots says "scientists' working tools" to me.

At the parking lot, our instructor looked up the creek and spotted a green-winged teal, some mallards, a Mrs. Bufflehead; there was a great blue heron. Sitting out on the sands, an eagle. We put on all our layers, gathered up the guide books, spotting scope, dishtubs of sieving equipment, cameras, binoculars;

Boots, Scope, Tools (Click for larger image.)
About half the party started out cold and never warmed up. (Click for larger image.)

and headed towards the tide-stranded island, sieving plugs of sand from the exposed bottom of Crescent Bay; finding not too many invertebrates, two or three little lives measurable in millimeters. A proboscis worm, a bloodworm, an amphipod called Eohaustorius. Each was kept wet on our hands by drops of water from the sieving tubs; and gently then returned to somewhere near where we pulled up the core we had extracted them from, with some hope that they went on with their really tiny lives. Er, except for the first one, the proboscis worm, which I accidentally broke in half while moving it to a classmate's hand for her to examine it. Though we put him back, both barely visible pieces, that one probably didn't make it.

Past the island, we tidepooled. It's a pleasure to use the knee-boots' advantage to walk just anywhere, wade right in like a wild creature might. I got well and truly stuck in the muddy sand at one point, would have lost a boot entirely without a hand from someone on more solid bottom. Walking on rock, our instructor accidentally stepped on and crushed a limpet. "Oh I'm sorry," she said to it.

Mossy chitons, branching coralline algae, green anemones (all closed up), barnacles, limpets, eelgrass (Click for larger image.)

Tubeworms, lots of seaweeds, red encrusting sponge, encrusting coralline algae, enormous mussels.

We clambered up onto the rocks on Tongue Point. Some scrambling around eagerly, some (me) terrified every minute of falling (gumboots are NOT the footwear for rock climbing or rock walking).

... (Click for larger image.)

Between the people afraid of falling and the people who were too cold to have fun, our instructor eventually had to declare the outdoor part of the day over. We adjourned to the Blackberry Cafe in Joyce, for hot chocolate or tea, shared treats, and passing around field guides and ID lists for all the things we had seen.


Iva said...

re contributing to science: Back in the day...there were those of us that thought you would write a detailed flora of the Marin Headlands. Missed opportunities, huh?

quillside said...

I love that chiton picture, the greenness of the seaweed. so beautiful!