Oh the Tides they are a’changing

Oh the Tides, they are a-changin’

This past weekend our group of adventurers stepped onto the exposed rocky reefs to search for the elusive residents of the tide pools. Walk with us and see what we found!

leather seastar2 Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay has been one of the lesser-known gems for marine life, especially for tide pool organisms.  Nothing lasts forever!  Thanks to ever increasing awareness about the treasures of these tide pools, their celebrity status has been reaching the stars!  Increased visitation has its drawbacks – foot traffic for a hermit crab can be a real headache.
 However, more people learning about the amazing diversity and beauty of these special places can also lead to changes in our own behavior with respect to the oceans too.


Perhaps Saturday’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle had something to do with the parking lot being more over-flowing than normal!  The number of visitors to the tide pools is not the only variable changing.  Climate change has been leading to a hurried march of organisms from the south. Coastal water temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in recent decades, and with beach temperatures even higher. As many organisms struggle to stay within temperatures ranges they can tolerate, the result is a shift in habitat ranges northward – leading to increased competition from the newcomers for scarce space and resources.


have net will tidepool!
Our explorers’ persistence and curiosity were rewarded with all manner of tide pool treasures!

Miles and Dorothy



Treasures Tiny!

From the left – a baby purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus); a vibrant penpoint gunnel (Apodicthys flavidus) ; and a delicate porcelain crab (Petrolisthes elongatus) all fit neatly in the palm of one hand!

baby purple urchin
porcelain crab
penpoint gunnel


Tentacled Treasures!

We were very lucky indeed to happen across this beautiful healthy red pacific octopus.

Octopus 2
Octopus 7
Octopus 1


monkey love While they are completely protected in the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (immediately to the north of Pillar Point), monkey-faced eels are a favorite target for those fishing for a meal. However, in a long-term study of the populations in this area between 1972 and 1992, their numbers showed a steady decline.
eel fishing 2

Don’t miss out on our next adventure! 2013 is the year of extraordinary tide pools, so check our online list of upcoming events and pick your next outing with us. We have more tide pool explorations, shark days, tours aboard our 90′ research vessel, and more awaiting you in coming months.


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