A blob of spaghetti on top of some brown plants.

What’s in the Tidepools? – February 2023

A solitary sea anemone which has a cylindrical body with a centrally located mouth surrounded by tentacles. The body is soft and jelly-like, and it is green in color. The tentacles are thin and elongated, and they radiate out from the mouth in a circular pattern.

What’s In the Tidepools? – February 2023

(NPS Photo/M. Rose)

February was another outstanding month for exploring in the tidepools. The king tides produced an extreme low tide of -2 feet, giving an exceptional viewing of critters. All the recent welcomed rain along with the king tides caused some bluff collapses as well as rain runoff in the ocean. The welcomed rain also started to allow spring wildflowers to start to pop up.

Here is a sampling of what our volunteers observed during this month — thank you to everyone who contributed. Remember to send in your photos; we truly appreciate sharing them with everyone.

You can find videos on the Tidepool Videos page.

The Keyhole limpet is an interesting looking critter. The hard shell on top looks too small for its body. We see Keyhole limpets of different colors in the tidepools, from black as shown here, to brown, gray and mottled. They have a large orange foot on the bottom. They are always a treat to show the visitors.

With the recent strong storms and king tides, there is no surprise that bluff collapses and erosion occurred throughout the tidepools.The sandstone and shale layers are very soft and erode easily. This is a good reminder to avoid standing next to the cliffs, and advising visitors of the dangers, while in the tidepools. The bluff collapse here was found in Zone 2.

Moray Eel – VIP Tansy was in the right place at the right time. She was able to capture this video of an eel moving from one tidepool to another.

Sea Hares have been found in all areas of the tidepools, some as small as 3 inches. Several have been found at the main entrance and others out in Zone 2. We have two species of Sea Hares in the tidepools; the Black Sea Hare and the California Sea Hare.

They can often look like a shiny blob or rock when they are out of the water. They are just waiting patiently for the tide to roll back in.

When the sea hares lay eggs it looks like a blob of spaghetti.

Lots of Bat Stars were observed this month, along with brittle stars and Fragile Rainbow Stars. The Stars are always a visitor favorite, so it was nice to be able to share those observations with the public.

Zebra Perch can often be found at the base of Fish Rock out in Zone 2. These are juveniles. The juveniles also act as cleaner fish for the Opaleye.

They are herbivores eating red, brown and green algae.

You can identify the Zebra perch by their oval-shaped body with a bright blue spot on the gill cover, behind the eye. They are usually greenish or silver-gray in color. Zebra Perch have a series of vertical bars on the side.

Spiny lobsters have been spotted frequently as of late, given the extreme low tides. This one was hanging out by Buffalo rock near the tidepool entrance.

Lobster traps have also been washing up. Before you try to safely reel them in, make sure there are no live lobsters still in the cage. Several were released back into the ocean before the traps were removed from the tidepools.

VIP Mary found this unusual snail near the tidepool entrance. Her investigation using iNaturalist indicates it is a Green Bubble Snail.

The small black dots are the beady eyes. The pinkish shell is very tiny. This snail was about an inch long. It was located in the narrow trench next to the flat rock where a lot of the trace fossil tracks of ancient ghost shrimp are (tunnel tracks).

A green blob with yellow dots and a small oval shaped shell on top.
NPS/M. Rose – Green Bubble Snail

The recent rains have allowed some Spring flowers to start blooming. Watch for more as Spring gets here. A good reminder to watch for visitors who are trying to pick the flowers.

Please inform visitors that everything is protected in the park and the flowers should not be picked. Leave only footprints and take memories and photos.

2 thoughts on “What’s in the Tidepools? – February 2023

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