A sunset along a rocky shoreline.

What’s In the Tidepools – February 2021

What’s In the Tidepools?

February 2021

Our volunteers at Cabrillo National Monument take photos of the exciting flora and fauna down in the tidepools. 

We want to try and capture the wonderful photos that volunteers are taking in the tidepool area. So we are starting this blog post which will get published on a monthly basis, but we need your help. We want you to contribute by submitting your memorable photos to cnmvipvoice@gmail.com. These photos can be of tidepool critters, fauna, bluff collapses, sunsets or anything you consider special. Make sure you include who took the photo and the location, if possible. Will you help?

Here are some highlights from this month!

Fragile Rainbow Sea Stars are rarely encountered in the tidepools. They almost always have 5 symmetric arms, primarily eat small crabs, and can grow up to 8 centimeters.

A brown sea star with yellow knobs over each arm.
NPS Photo/N. Cheng

Most often seen during very low tides, Kelp Crabs like to hide under rocks and sea grass. They can grow up to a foot in total length, and have very prominent claws and legs. Males are generally larger than females.

A large red crab with two large pinchers
NPS Photo/N. Cheng

Nudibranchs are commonly encountered in the tidepools, with Hopkin’s Rose being the most prevalent. However, other species like brightly colored Spanish Shawls and Brown-Ringed Nudibranchs (shown here) are also occasionally found.

A light yellow slug covered by brown circles
NPS Photo/N. Cheng

Another photo of the Brown-Ringed Nudibranch, also known as the San Diego Dorid.

An oblong beige sea slug with brown oval shaped rings lies on a bed of seagrass.
NPS Photo/S. Bergen

California Sea Hares are commonly found in the tidepools. Larger adults are found in the upper tidal zones, while younger ones inhabit the lower, deeper zones.

A foot sized purple and black blob sits in shallow water.
NPS Photo/P. Geisler

Giant Keyhole Limpets mainly consume red and green algae, and are preyed upon by sea stars, birds, and an occasional crab.

A black blob is attached to a rock. A tan oval shaped hard shell sits on top of the blob. The shell has an opening in the middle. A walking stick is seen to the right of the blob.
NPS Photo/J. Hunt

Gracie the Grackle is frequently seen in the tidepool area. Grackles are relatively uncommon at Cabrillo National Monument and San Diego in general.

A gray and white bird stands on a rock looking at the water.
NPS Photo/P. Geisler

Bluff Collapse from February 17 which occurred mid-day. Collapses occur every so often, frequently changing the landscape. They happen more often during the winter months when rain washes sediment away.

A rock collapse of soft tan sandstone cliffs
NPS Photo/A. Rosales

California Moray Eels are rare in the tidepools, and are found only on days with extremely low tides, where one can venture out further into deeper water to search for them. While they can grow up to 5 feet long, it is usually juveniles that are encountered.

NPS Video/S. Bergen

The Two spot Octopus is quite commonly found in the tidepools. Their camouflage gives them the ability to instantly adapt to their surroundings, matching both texture and color even though they only see in black and white.

NPS Video/S. Bergen

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