Because I was still so tired and such an emotional wreck, Robb and I decided that a day at the beach would be a nice diversion. Nothing like being confronted with the difficulty of someone else's life to give some perspective on one's own. In this case, Robb and I mused on the harshness of life for the wild creatures who live along the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Harbor Seals have had their pups and spend low tide resting (and warming up) on the rocks off-shore. Those long blobs are seals. There were easily a hundred of these animals at the beach we visited. Although the rangers had put out a clear barrier of bright orange traffic cones, and dozens of signs asking people to give the seals their room, a small number of visitors to the beach were too oblivious or too self-absorbed to pay any attention at all. They pushed right past the barricades, as if they weren't there at all. There were no lack of signs reminding beach visitors that if adult seals are disturbed, they will abandon this site, and their orphaned babies will starve to death.
Other living creatures' fate is in your hands, people. How much of a burden is it for you to not walk past the bright orange cones and all those signs?
There were a few new species sightings for us. This is a Red Sea Urchin, and quite a monster. It had to be six inches across. These have been discovered to be one of the longest-living animals on earth, surviving up to 200 years. Amazing.
This is a Giant Spined Star.
It deserves a closer look, because it has such lovely coloration. Interestingly, there are many organisms around here that sport a sort of pale lavender.
This Shield-Backed Kelp Crab is covered with one of these lavender organisms, as are the rocks he's crawling on.
It was a god day for Sea Stars. In addition to many common Ochre Stars, Robb spotted this tiny Six-Rayed Star. It was about an inch and a half across, and was moving quite quickly.
This is a Leather Star. They are reputed to smell of garlic, but I'm not sure that making people sniff the Sea Stars isn't a hazing ritual for naturalists. Me? I leave the animals where they are, and don't yank them off their rocks, just so that I can get a whiff.
There were plenty of Giant Green Anemones, but for some reason they looked a lot more yellowy-brown than usual. I understand that their green coloration comes from a creature lives inside of them. Maybe at this time of year, there are fewer of those creatures around. Who knows.
This red anemone is a tiny Proliferating Anemone. You can see its tiny babies all around it.
This is the exact same species. In fact, the red anemone and the yellow one were in the same pool. I find it fascinating how much variance there can be in such closely related creatures.
While the day at the beach was re-energizing on one level, it was also quite challenging for Robb. He still can't walk very well, and negotiating all that uneven terrain is quite difficult. Walking on the sand is especially hard. At one point, he put his foot down wrong and had such shooting pain that he had to lay down for a quarter of an hour. But all the difficulties don't deter him.
I can't decide if he's inspired to keep going, because of how hard it all is, or in spite of this.