Wednesday, July 8, 2015


At some point every summer, there is a "lowest tide".  Low tides (and high tides) aren't created equal; some are lower than others.  This occurs when the earth, moon, and sun are all in alignment -- in syzygy.  Ain't that a grand word?  Three y's, no need for ordinary vowels, rhymes with "misery".  I encourage it's use at your next dinner party.

Every month, there are particularly low tides during new and full moons (spring tides).  And sometimes, these spring tides are really, really low (due to all the astronomical stuff going on around us -- how close our neighbors are; where the planets are, etc).

This week we had a particularly low tide, and at Kent Island that means an expedition to the intertidal.  You never know what you're going to find out there, and that's part of the fun -- it's like an Easter egg hunt -- one that's a bit cold and slimy.  But we all bundled right up and got out there, thankful for good weather on this special day.

First we had to hike down to the south end of the island, wading through the tall grass.  That pole is a sensor that picks up signals from tagged herring gulls.

Headed past the driftwood down to the rocks! 
Our first find -- hermit crabs!
And gigantic Littorina snails -- we have the biggest periwinkles anywhere!

Claire seems unimpressed by this urchin.  But who can resist it?

I'm a huge fan of kelp holdfasts.

And sponges!  This species turns green due to a symbiotic algae living in it.

A giant waved whelk.  Predatory bad ass.
Snail fish.  A favorite!

Aho!  What's this?  The first baby lobster we've found.  You know it's a low tide to find these guys.

Scale worm.  These bioluminesce when preyed on.

Two seastars -- an Asterias and a brittle star -- probably Ophiopholis aculeata.

Lots of Cancer crabs down low.

We took turns flipping over cobbles and catching rock gunnels.

Like this one!

Who knew there could be a waterfall in the ocean?
Interested in tidepools?  Check out these guides:  How to tidepool and Where to tidepool in Maine.

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