The Ocean Waves “Happy Spring!”

By Joyce Amaro, LA Stormwater

Exploring Southern California tide pools is one of my favorite pastimes. I love gazing into the shallow water and peering under rocks searching for the Pacific’s shoreline residents. My son, a nature enthusiast as well, enjoys keeping an ongoing tally of all the sea creatures we come across when we visit tide pools. So, this past weekend, when my husband and I noticed the low tide on a scenic drive around Palos Verdes, it was an easy decision to make a pit stop to explore the tide pools. All three of us were eager to see what critters we would find with the ocean waves pulled back.

My personal goal was to find sea stars. Southern California’s population of sea stars has been decimated recently due to a mysterious and deadly “sea star wasting syndrome.” In past trips to the tide pools, I’d often counted as many as a dozen sea stars. As I trekked down the cliffside trail, I said a prayer that we would find a few that had survived.

Palos.Verdes.Tidepools.Ethan.Sea.HareMy seven-year old son made our first discovery. “I found a sea cucumber!” he shouted. “Actually, there are two!” he added, with delight, as he pointed to two shiny and slimy, brown and black-speckled blobs slowly trudging along the bottom of a large pool. Each had large rabbit-ear-like antennae and what looked like a ruffled hemline of a dress along their backs that fluttered in the water. A quick smart phone search by my husband told us that we were looking at a type of mollusk called a California Sea Hare. I joked that they were sea rabbits!

And, like rabbits, these mollusks had been busy. As we scrambled over rocky outcroppings from pool to pool , we found sea hares in almost every single tide pool. My hawk-eyed son even found a “baby” sea hare. After two hours of exploring, my son tallied up our sea creature count: 15 California Sea Hares, hundreds of Hermit Crabs, a few dozen Sea Anemones, a handful of Fiddler Crabs…and two Sea Stars. Yes, I had found my sea stars, but the sea hares were the true stars of the day!

On the drive home, we talked excitedly about our creature adventure and marveled at finding 15 sea hares. In all my years of exploring tide pools, I had never discovered so many in a single visit! My son rolled his eyes and chuckled when I said that we were probably seeing more California Sea Hares – or sea rabbits as my son was now calling them – because spring was almost here.

The ocean was waving, “Happy Spring!” 

Enjoy a brief slideshow featuring a few of the critters we found on my recent tide pool adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

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