[Tweeters] Night Beach

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Feb 24 12:11:19 PST 2015


I'd been wanting to take a night time trip to the beach to check out a low tide. As you may, or may not, know, in winter, low tides are at night, unlike in spring and summer. Last tuesday I took the opportunity to go to a Port Townsend Marine Science Center sponsored beach walk to North Beach here in Port Townsend, and it couldn't have been a calmer, or warmer February night to do it.

Beach birding at night, is maybe not the greatest, but arriving early at the empty dark parking lot, I was delighted to hear a single American Widgeon calling loudly out on the dark water, which was a bit odd I thought, since I have never seen one out there in the daytime, on the open saltwater.
Well, soon the rest of the folks showed up, and on down the beach we went, flashlights in hand, and headlamps on head. In short order, I began suffering from a mental problem new to me - Flashlight Envy. You see, being kind of cheap, I made the mistake of buying yet another cheap LED flashlight, and despite being new, it soon crapped out. And it didn't have enough of those lumen thingy's to begin with. I was soon tailgating other participants with better lights.
That was too bad, because I was on my ongoing mission to turn people on to using close-focusing binoculars for viewing tide pool creatures, and being sort of a dim bulb in the lighting category may have damaged my credibility. Actually this trip was a test run for me using the binocs at night, but watching areas lit by people with real flashlights - like 80 - 120 lumens (or so), I was able to see little things quite nicely. From 5 or 6 ft away, at 8x, I can tell a copepod (about the size of a comma in this post) from other similar sized planktonic critters, for example. Being 6 or so feet away also allows creatures some room to move - so you can watch their behavior with out scaring them off. Kind of neat.
Anyway, it was sort of fun, and we saw a number of interesting things. Starfish are currently suffering a mysterious wasting disease, which is devastating populations all along the west coast, but we did see many of the brilliant orange red Blood Stars (the most I'v e ever seen in one place), and Mother Nature gave us so many Sea Lemons (a big yellowish Nudibranch) we could have made Sea Lemonade. At least three other species of Nudibranchs, or Sea Slugs, were around too.
My favorite critter of the night though, were the shrimp. These small (one to two inches long) shrimp were all over the place and even with my dim light their eyes glowed like lanterns in the dark. Cool.
Jeff Gibsonin Port Townsend Wa


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