Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Minus tide.

I love to go tide-pooling. Last week, I had the chance to go to the beach at Golden Gardens Park twice. The tide was super-low both times, so I found some neat creatures I can't normally see. I had Beanie with me a lot of the time (though he also had fun sitting in the pounding surf and piling mountains of wet sand on his lap). Beanie is so gentle with sea creatures. He pets them very softly and lets them go.

In a big patch of surf grass, I met several crabs I've never seen before. I later found out that they're called kelp crabs. Some of them were, appropriately enough, eating kelp when I found them. These guys are cute in an spidery kind of way. (This photo of a kelp crab has a strange energy, a kind of longing in it that makes me wish I could write tasteful haikus. Can you see what I mean? That crab has a secret. She's looking into the distance wistfully, deep in thought.) The kelp crabs I found were an inch to three inches across, but I guess they can get much bigger. I like that their carapaces are pointed. They remind me of classic cars -- you know, like 50's T-birds with fins? I didn't say the association made sense....

I also saw several big ochre starfish, which, contrary to their name, can come in many colors: yellow, purple, brown, orange, and pink. They're slimy and soft on the colored surface, but they're also covered with tiny hard, white bumps. I enjoy petting them. If they're on sand (not rock -- you can hurt them if you peel them off rock!), I like to pick them up and watch their tiny suction-ended feet wiggle. I always try to put them back in the exact same place I found them.

There was a small sunflower starfish on a barnacle-encrusted rock. I touched its back a little (which felt soft, almost velvety), then let it be. What attractive starburst shapes they present!

I found a moon jellyfish -- a live one in the water! (Usually I find them washed up and dead.) I pointed it out to Beanie, who was cavorting in the waves with me. We both did a spontaneous jellyfish dance by pretending to be jet-propelled as we jumped over incoming waves. Beanie giggled and giggled!

Then we found a beautifully irridescent polychaete worm. Wow, it was pretty! This photo doesn't do it justice, but you can get a general idea of what it looks like. It's related to the earthworm, but lives in the sea and swims like an undulating snake.

And the seaweed is a fantastic lush garden of color, this time of year. Green, yellow, brown, turquoise, black, purple, and more green. I don't know all of the plants' names yet, but I saw my favorite seaweed: the attractively purple Turkish Towel. This nubby beauty is a useful crop to humans. Lookit:

The cells of Chondracanthus exasperatus [Turkish Towel] contain a seaweed gum called carrageenan. Carrageenan is an extremely useful emulsifier that is used in numerous food and industrial products. It is commonly used as a thickener in many tasty milk products, such as chocolate milk, cottage cheese, and ice cream, because it gels in the presence of calcium ions. Carrageenan is also found in pasta, pet food, pancake syrup, and toothpaste. Turkish towel blades are also used by humans as wash cloths to remove dead skin.

Yay for red algae! And while I'm busy cheering:

I love the ocean! It is alive! It seethes and crawls and swims and jumps and squirts and makes life from light! I love the taste of it, and the smell, and how my hair gets crisp with salt!

This is from Rachel Carson's 1955 book, "The Edge of the Sea":

Contemplating the teeming life of the shore, we have an uneasy sense of the communication of some universal truth that lies just beyond our grasp.... What truth is expressed in the legions of the barnacles, whitening the rocks with their habitations, each small creature within finding the necessities of its existence in the sweep of the surf? ...This meaning haunts and ever eludes us, and in its very pursuit we approach the ultimate mystery of Life itself.

Rachel Carson understood the ocean -- it has a message. It's like a love letter. You just have to go get it, see? I'm going back as soon as I can, when the tide is low. I don't care that my back is still sunburned from last time, either.


6 Comments:

  • At 1:17 AM, Blogger Forrest Cook said…

    I love visiting the tide pools when I'm in an accessible area... Tucson and Flagstaff arent the best locations for that particular hobby. You should take a camera with you to record the fun things you find! Wish I could go with you and beanie, I have a feeling I would learn a lot.

    Forrest

     
  • At 11:50 AM, Anonymous chasmyn said…

    What a lovely post about your beach days! It sounds just amazing...

     
  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger Not Crunchy said…

    Enjoyed the post - your son is so lucky to have a mom like you to take him tidepooling!

     
  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    I'm just now getting around to everyone after being laid up with my broken leg. Anyway... this is an amazing post! I love all the gorgeous pictures! I feel about caves the way you feel about the ocean. I'd probably feel that way about the ocean, too, if I lived near it. But I live in land-locked Ohio, alas, so I go caving instead.

     
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