What’s in the Tidepools? – October 2021

Thick brown branches along a rocky beach.

What’s In the Tidepools? – October 2021

(NPS Photo/D. Wieder)

Our dedicated 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. This blog post is published on a monthly basis, but we need your help. We encourage you to contribute by submitting your memorable photos and/or short videos to cnmvipvoice@gmail.com. These 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?

It’s tidepool season again! As we move into lower and lower tides, we will resume monthly posts with all the fun things our wonderful TPERPers spot out there.

Here are some highlights from this month!

Crabs normally undergo routine molting throughout their lifecycles. Occasionally, parts of their outer shells will wash up, including exoskeletons of their legs. This one was found inside of a sea anemone.

A crab leg stuck in a round disk with cylinders radiating out from the center.
NPS Photo/K. Gerace

This is a Yellow Umbrella Slug, part of the Nudibranch family. It was discovered in Zone 1 by a visitor. Hundreds of varieties of nudibranchs exist, and it is always fun to see an uncommon one in the tidepools.

Yellow oblong slug on top of red grass
NPS Photo/D. Orr

It’s rare for visitors and TPERPers alike to see California Spiny Lobsters up close, other than when their molts wash up on shore. In this photo, it’s easy to see why female lobsters are considered fierce predators in the rocky intertidal zone with claws and hooks on the last pair of legs. They are typically called pincers. The pincers aid in depositing and tending to her eggs which are kept on the underside of her tail.

Leg from a lobster with a claw and a hook at the end.
NPS Photo/M. Rose

California Sea Hares are commonly found in the tidepools. Look for these, as well as the Black Sea Hare, seen mainly in Zone 2. Also be on the lookout for blobs of “spaghetti,” which will be their eggs.

A foot sized purple and brown slug in shallow water,
NPS Photo/M. Yassin

Tar balls from the recent oil spill in Orange County have started to show up in the tidepools. It’s important that you do not touch or move these blobs of tar. The rangers are recording their locations and communicating with the cleanup team. Contact a ranger if you notice a significant change in the amount of tar washing up.

Fist sized black blobs of tar floating in shallow water above a sandy bottom.
NPS Photo/D. Wieder

Now that low tide season is here, it’s important to remain vigilant about the dangers of the bluffs. warn visitors if they are too close to the cliffs about possible collapses. We want to make sure both the visitors and you stay safe during a tidepool experience. 

Tan sandstone cliffs adjacent to a rocky beach.
NPS Photo/D. Wieder

The boat that crashed in mid-August is still below the hump along the Coastal Trail. TPERPers, please keep an eye on things around the boat until the tides can break it up and it gets removed from the tidepools. Also try to steer visitors away from the boat while answering any questions they might have.

White boat stuck under rocky cliffs at the ocean.
NPS Photo/D. Wieder
M. Chin-Purcell – Crashing waves at the bottom of the Spur Trail

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