We couldn’t have asked for a better day to go for a paddle on Redwood Creek! Saturday, August 18 was sunny and calm as we set out on the water at about 10:30. Canoeing is a great team-building exercise, and I enjoyed seeing families work together to maneuver their boats around the sloughs.
The tide was low as we set out, so we headed inland along the main channel to look for birds. We saw a number of different shorebirds around Bair Island – snowy egrets, great blue herons, sandpipers, and swallows are just a few. We enjoyed lunch in our canoes, and then investigated some of the mud that was exposed during the low tide.
A huge variety of invertebrates (animals with no internal skeleton) like clams, snails, worms and crabs make their home in the mudflats of the San Francisco Bay estuary. These creatures are an important source of food for birds, fish and sharks. We even collected some live snails and crabs to observe for a while. One of the small yellow shore crabs, collected by MSI member and marine camper Leo, came back with us and now lives in the MSI aquarium.
As we paddled back the way we came, the tide had come up enough that we were able to enter a small slough just across from MSI and see some of the marsh plants up close. We even tasted one of them! Pickleweed is a small succulent, native to the marshes of San Francisco Bay. As salt builds up in its small, pickle-like segments, they turn red and fall off. Pickleweed is edible, but whether it’s enjoyable is a matter of personal taste. The salt marsh harvest mouse, however, loves pickleweed and both lives among and eats the salty plant. We also checked out the saltgrass, gumplant and the invasive iceplant.