Sunday, March 08, 2009

By the Sea

...



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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't is obvious why one anemone is red and the other yellow? One has a chosen to find a hairdresser who can make her a California blond!

~~Doublesaj~~

Marcie said...

As always, what gorgeous images, and I hope you found some peace by the sea. One of my daughters is nicknamed after some of these creatures, and I'm going to show these to her.

Anonymous said...

That leather star photo is BEAUTIFUL! It looks like it should be in National Geographic or something. Here in my part of PA we have stars featured on a lot of the houses and barns in town, as part of the thirteen origonal colonies, etc... I guess you could celebrate your patriotic spirit by putting those star fish all over the side of your apartment building, eh?

Also, sorry to hear Robb had aches and pains, but considering how he didn't have any feeling before in many parts of his legs and back, every ache he "celebrates" is a step towards healing and improvement, maybe?

Have you tried doing an updated "stickers on his feet" to try and see if there is any visual change in his healing?

Daffodil and tulip bulbs are just starting to poke up here thru the dirt and leftover bits of snow. Spring is coming!

Annalisa

Anonymous said...

Yes it was a beach day this weekend! So nice the rain is gone.

Never saw that cool little six armed starbaby or the shield shaped krab even after all those trips to Monterey Aquarium..

gorgous pix. as usual
Suzi

JAM said...

Super shots and great descriptions. You're quite the renaissance woman. Sorry to hear about your recent trials and tribulations. :(

Glad you got to see the solitary red urchin - it's an amazing beastie
Read up on anemones - especially the agregating ones. They too can live to be quite old and they can reproduce by spawning or by pulling themselves into two pieces and both become a new anemone and so on and so on... until you have a rock completely covered in genetically identical individuals. Clones!

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