(written the day after the last post, but no computer power!)
We returned to Point Holmes today, for a rare treat. An exceptionally low tide! Cameron, armed with the experience of yesterday and the newfound knowledge that crabs don’t eat us, we eat them (crab for supper), was more outgoing and even more willing to explore and investigate.
Curious about rock formations that aren’t normally visible, we headed to an area of the beach we’d never really explored before. We’d always, when I was little, headed for the big boulders and their promise of large tidal pools, but these rocks looked tempting. We were well rewarded!
Purple and orange starfish littered the rocks, squeezed into the tiniest of cracks in some places, outright in the open in others. I actually had to watch Cameron to be sure he didn’t step on the things. Early on he gathered up his courage and touched the back of one, discovering for himself that they’re gooey at first touch, then shift to hard and bumpy with a visible change in sheen. He dared to touch the tube feet, and experimented with what they would grab hold of. Fingers, no. Shells and rocks, yes. Give them a rock, and more extend to touch it!
Then the seaweed changed as we headed further out. Crab numbers under overturned rocks decreased. Starfish, incredible though it seemed, became even more numerous, plastered in piles under the overhangs of the rock formations we’d found, packed into crevices. There were different shades of orange and purple – still just five legs. Then … many legs! We’d found sunstars, of two varieties. Also another type with five legs, smoother and redder than the familiar ones. We’d left the classic intertidal zone, and found ourselves walking amongst creatures and seaweed that only rarely are left dry. We collected several of the smaller sunstars, each around the size of Cameron’s handprint. After all, we had to investigate!
Cameron, Betty and I scrambled over rocks, peering into pools, collecting some of the oddities we found (to be put back, of course). Some were just too odd to put in Cameron’s bucket for closer inspection. Like the critters that left the undersides of some of the furthest-out rocks looking like they needed a Kleenex. A-choo.
Cameron got right into it, wriggling his fingers in pools, squeezing into crevices I wasn’t too comfortable letting him go into. He did, however, find a HUGE sunstar.
On the way back to the sand and familiar territory, we caught sight of a flock of Harlequin Ducks. I haven’t seen those in years. Reminded me of my time chasing the things down in kayaks to take blood samples, well over a decade ago. We also saw a bald eagle swoop down just fifteen or twenty feet away, returning to the air with something wriggling in its claws. As we picked our way over seaweedy rocks, a detail jumped out at both me and Betty. Orange periwinkles. By the dozen. Hurrah! Big ones! Several went into the bucket with the sunstars.
Back on the sand, we watched the sunstars move, and talked about how they’re different from the other stars we’d found. More legs, different feel to their body, how they move. They move, and fast, by the way. One also changed colours from sandy-brown to purple with pale bumps, though whether this was in response to stress or not I’m not sure.
Then it was time to go. The tide was rapidly encroaching on our sandy patch, and it was late in the afternoon. But before we left, of course, all of our treasures went back into the water.