Our absolute favorite time of the year is finally here! Officially all of the birds that nest at the Rock have arrived and are here to stay for the rest of the summer. The Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Tufted Puffin and some others all make up the majority of the nesting bird population. From personal experience, I understand that it can be incredibly overwhelming to come to the beach in search of puffins and learn that there is so many species of birds to identify between. That is why we are here! We want to show you the difference between the Common Murres (which look like tiny flying penguins) and the Tufted Puffin; both of which look very similar while in flight with their similar size and fast wing beat. Since the Tufted Puffin are the claim to fame bird at the Rock, I wanted to give you a few tips to be able to see them!
1. Come in the morning time. Its hard to give an exact time, but with a rough guess I would say anytime before 10:00am.
Alan Quimby was the lead interpreter on the beach on May 16, 2016 and spied an Aggregating Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) and a Shore Crab in close proximity in the tidepools.
The aggregating anemone is an invertebrates that looks likes a flower, with a tube shaped body capped by tentacles. Colored anemones have algae living in their tissue in a symbiotic relationship. The anemone bends away or toward the light to facilitate the light level needed for photosynthesis in the algae; it return, the algae provides food to the anemone.
Anemones eat a wide variety of food, using stinging cells on their tentacles (called nematocysts) to paralyze their prey. They can even ingest small crabs and discard the shells. Perhaps that is what happened to the shore crab on this day as the crab must have gotten a little too close and appeared to have been paralyzed by a small aggregating anemone.
Paralyzed Shore Crab
The anemone is abundant on the rocky shore and can almost al…
Today we look back to August 3rd on the beach. Gina Palmer was the lead interpreter on the beach for the 1.4 ft low tide at 7:46pm. It was a sunny afternoon with a NNW winds between 15 and 25 knots. The opalescent nudibranches, typically found under the boulders in the central pools of Haystack Rock, were today out in the sand.
The opalescent nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis) is an invertebrate that resides in the intertidal rocky shores from Baja California to Alaska. They grow to about 3 inches, subsisting on a diet mainly of hydroids, but will also eat small sea anemones and bryozoans. A nudibranch lives for a maximum of one year and is hermaphroditic. It's eggs are laid in narrow, coiled strings attached to eelgrass or algae.
The opalescents are a colorful species of nudibranch, having bright orange areas on their back with a blue line on each side. Next time you're in the intertidal zone at low tide - anywhere on the west coast -take a look in…