#8 and final in a series of guest blog posts by Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists Bobby Arispe and Jen Strongin.
It’s been an amazing season on the beach! A few highlights:
In early June, Jen had an incredible week—a 17-inch long California sea cucumber, a humpback whale breaching off Golden Gardens beach, bald eagles, moon snails laying eggs, flatfish, sea pens, huge Dungeness crabs, shrimp, sea stars and…lots of octopuses! A grand total of seven were reported from a single day at Lincoln Park beach in West Seattle!
Bobby had his first day as a beach naturalist at Constellation Park where he discovered a gap in the rock, revealing a hidden little world for sea stars and anemones. At the boulder wall he found lots of purple sea stars, and some of the largest anemones he had ever seen.
As June wrapped up, Jen found a new game to play with young beachgoers—“beach detective,” where kids used their senses to determine if the crabs they found on the beach were really dead. A gentle touch to see if they moved; if not, they picked them up and felt how heavy they were. Then, they gave them a good smell. If the crab didn’t smell really stinky, they tried opening the carapace. If it opened easily and looked like the crab below, they knew they had “crab clothes” or, more technically, a molt! This crab had just grown a little bigger and left its old exoskeleton behind.
Bobby loved exploring the beach over the 4th of July weekend. His favorite moment was when a little explorer brought him over to see a fish he found. It was a gunnel, a small fish that can often be mistaken for an eel. This particular gunnel was not moving and they feared it was dead, but it wriggled to life when Bobby lifted it up to take a closer look. The kid was so excited that the fish was ok! He wanted to keep it safe and make sure it made it back under the rock.
One of the coolest finds this summer? A huge squid that washed up on Olympic Sculpture Park beach!
Beach etiquette tips:
- Leave things where you find them. Excited about your discovery? Bring a naturalist/teacher to the creature.
- Touch sea stars gently with one wet finger.
- Only move rocks that are small enough to be moved with one hand. Carefully return rocks to the exact position you found them in.
- Carry a small garbage bag to pick up trash.
Thanks to everyone who explored the beach with us this summer—hope to see you next year!
For more information about the Seattle Aquarium's Beach Naturalist program, visit SeattleAquarium.org/beach-naturalist.