Thursday, July 30, 2015

It’s that time again! The full moon is approaching, bringing some of the lowest tides of the year and the tide pools are waiting for explorers!

Exposure at the Needle during a negative low tide
Photo Courtesy of Alanna Kieffer

Tides for the approaching week:

Friday, July 31st  low tide: -1.4’ @ 7:18 AM
                        High tide: 6.7’ @ 1:56 PM
                        Low tide: 1.6’ @ 7:20 PM

Saturday, August 1stlow tide: -1.5’ @8:00 AM
                                    High tide: 7.1’ @ 2:36 PM
                                    Low tide: 1.2’ @ 8:10 PM

Sunday, August 2nd – low tide: -1.4’ @ 8:41 AM
                                    High tide: 7.3’ @ 3:16 PM
                                    Low tide: 0.8’ @ 8:59 PM

Monday, August 3rdlow tide: -1.1’ @ 9:22 AM
                                    high tide: 7.5’ @ 3:57 PM
                                    Low tide: 0.6’ @ 9:50 PM

Tuesday, August 4thlow tide: -0.5’ @ 10:03 AM
                                    High tide: 7.6’ @ 4:40 PM
                                    Low tide: 0.5’ @ 10:44 PM

Wednesday, August 5thlow tide: 0.1’ @ 10:48 AM
                                    High tide: 7.6’ @ 5:26 PM
                                    Low tide: 0.5’@ 11:44 PM

Thursday, August 6th – low tide: 0.9 @ 11:38 AM
                                    High tide: 7.5’@ 6:17 PM

The best times to see the tide pools at Haystack Rock are during negative low tides! This is the time when the tide pools are most exposed and there is the most to see. Most negative low tides are super early in the morning, so grab your coffee and your water shoes and get down to the beach! There are also low tides in the evening but these are not as low as the morning tides and therefore will not have as much exposure.

The West Coast of the United States experiences what are known as mixed semidiurnal tides. Semidiurnal means that there are two high and two low tides everyday. The word mixed represents that the two low tides as well as the two high tides in one 24-hour period are different heights, with one low-low tide and one high-low tide everyday.

Waning Moon on July 28, 2015 
Photo Courtesy of Alanna Kieffer 

The level of the tide is mostly affected by the moon, sun, and Earth’s position around each other. With a new or full moon approaching, the Earth, sun and moon are all aligning with each other. The gravitational pull of the moon combined with that of Earth is what to blame for pulling the water up and down our shores. With the full moon on the August 1st, the tides will be at the lowest point on this day at 8:00 AM. When the moon is not full, it is approaching the sun at an angle and the two gravitational pulls cancel each other out, therefore the tides are not as extreme.

Exposure at the Needle 
Photo Courtesy of Alanna Kieffer

So come to the tide pools as soon as possible to catch the lowest of the low tides! If you can’t make it out this week there will also be some negative tides again towards the middle and the end of the month. Plan your trip accordingly to land in the pools at the right time. Always remember no matter how low the tide is, most animals still need space, so do not disturb the birds and please use tide pool etiquette when exploring!

Happy tide-pooling!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Uncommon Visitor

Every once in a while we receive a visit from an uncommon inhabitant in the tidepools ... this week it was an octopus! It was a small octopus; note the size relative to the anemone in the following picture.

Octopus in the Tidepool
Photo Courtesy of Alanna Kieffer

Octopi have eight arms which typically bear suction cups. The majority of octopi have no internal skeleton or outer shell resulting in an almost completely soft body. The one exception is the beak, made of chitin, similar in shape to a parrot's beak. The soft body allow an octopus to squeeze in and between narrow spaces in rocks where they can hide from predators. They can also eject a thick, blackish ink in a cloud to aid in escaping from prey.

The octopus has a relatively short life, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years for some of the larger species. Reproduction is typically the cause of death; males live only a few moths after mating and females die shortly after their eggs hatch.

Most octopi are subtidal creatures, but smaller species will inhabit tidepools, typically near caves and smaller openings is rocks. An octopus is an uncommon visitor to Haystack Rock so it was a real treat to have one spotted in the tidepools last weekend.

Octopus in the Tidepool
Photo Courtesy of Alanna Kieffer

We hope to see you in the near future on the beach. Perhaps you will spot an uncommon visitor to the tidepools! HRAP Interpreters are on the beach daily at low tide and can answer your questions about the inhabitants of the tidepool.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

They Look Like Flowers!

Sea anemones may look like flowers but that are actually predatory animals. There are over 1000 species found worldwide in coastal waters in various sizes, shapes, and colors. They attach themselves to firm objects, primarily rocks at Haystack, and have a column-like body which is symmetric along the radial axis.  The anemone does not have a skeleton and can flatten or extend its body by changing its internal water pressure.

The Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) is a common find in the tidepools of Haystack Rock. The green color comes from a symbiotic algae that lives in the tissue of the anemone.

Giant Green Anemone in the Tide Pool
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Lemelin

The anemones mouth, surrounded by tentacles, is the single body opening. The tentacles have poison stingers, called nematocysts, that are used to catch food. The anemones are carnivores, typically feasting on fish, mussels, small crustaceans, worms and marine larvae. Even though the tentacles have poisonous stingers, they only feel a little sticky if you touch them since the skin is too thick to allow penetration of the poison. While the anemones eat a variety of animals, they have very few predators.

The Moonglow Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia) is also found at Haystack Rock. The tentacles have distinctive white bands that often have a luminous quality which is where the species gets its name 'moonglow'. This anemone is usually found in sandy areas where it is attached to a rock.

Moonglow Anemone in a sandy tidepool

Anemones can reproduce sexually or asexually. During asexual reproduction, called lateral fission, an identical animal sprouts from the side of the parent anemone, growing until it can survive on its own. In sexual reproduction, the anemones release eggs and sperm into the water which produces free-swimming larvae.

Sexual Reproduction - Moonglow Anemone

Right - Sexually reproducing Moonglow Anemone
Left - Bleached Aggregating Anemone

There are lots of anemones at Haystack Rock - take a closer look at them the next time you visit the tidepools! Interpreters are on the beach during daily low tides and can answer your questions about anemones and the other inhabitants of Haystack Rock!

See you on the beach.