Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

California Trip: October 2013

The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is an awesome and amazing place, unique in my experience. This natural inter-tidal area is situated just right to provide rocky, pools for a wide diversity of marine life and a viewing opportunity for us land bound humans. We can get a glimpse of this watery world when the tide goes out. At medium and high tides the area is underwater, awash with Pacific waves bringing in plankton and other nutrients for those critters who have rooted themselves to the rocks. Small fish, octopi, crabs and harbor seals prowl the rocks at high tide. The denizens have adapted over the eons to this environment which changes twice a day from water to air.

Here are a few photos I took on my last trip. I hope you enjoy them and encourage you to visit when next you find your way to the San Francisco area. It is not far down the coast near the town of Moss Beach. When you do, check the websites to arrange your visit for a zero or minus tide, which will allow you to wander out on the rocks and look down into the tide pools or to see what has washed up.

Friends of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Website
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve County Park Website

The view as you enter the inter-tidal zone from the visitor center and parking lot.

Looking down into a tide pool with its seaweed, seagrass, anemones and other critters.

A Great Blue Heron prowls the other reaches of the tidal area looking for lunch.

A colorful hermit crab walks along the red seaweed (algae).

Two species of anenomes (elegantissima and xanthogrammica) in their closed posture.

Seagrass is the only vascular plant in the pools. The seaweeds are actually algae.

A beautiful xanthogrammica Sea Anemone fully open underwater.
Its "arms" reach out "looking" for food to grab and bring to its central mouth.

I spotted this amazing Chiton, a type of mollusk, that was almost a foot long.
The docents were super excited at this unusual find.

Closeup of a sola Sea Anemone

This Scupin, a type of rock fish, blends well with the pool bottom.

This anemone is almost fully closed and protected in the shallows.

A Hermit Crab in a colorful shell

Sola Sea Anemone

Gooseneck Barnacles

Hermit Crabs in colorful shell homes.

Bluff, beach, and inter-tidal area.

Hermit Crab

Limpets clinging to the rocks

Looking north along the rocks covered with mussels, barnacles, and seaweed algae.

A closer look at a Mussel colony and bunches of barnacles.

The only Sea Star spotted in the whole park this day.
No one knows why there are now so few of this previously abundant species.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Only one more post to go in my California October 2013 series.

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