Know your beach-this week from the beach

#7 in the 2018 series of guest blog posts by Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists Bobby Arispe and Jen Strongin.

Message from Bobby:

Carkeek Park is one of my favorite Seattle beaches for a low-tide walk. There are a wide variety of homes for sea critters. Rocks and boulders provide cover for sea stars, barnacles, cucumbers and a host of other creatures. The sandy areas let us see siphons from gapers, clams, and geoduck. Carkeek also has large eel grass-filled tide pools once the tide goes out. These tide pools and their eel grass forests provide a home and nursery for many species of fish and crabs. We beach naturalists try to stay on the edges of the pools, careful not to trample through the grass. During this low-tide walk we spotted a couple interesting fish species.

We found this striped seaperch (Embiotoca lateralis) stuck in a shallow tide pool that was losing water and getting really warm. This species of fish is viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. Unfortunately this momma fish was too stressed out. She did not give birth before dying.

Striped seaperch laying in shallow water

This prickly sculpin (Cottus asper) was chased out of the eel grass by a blue heron that was hunting in its tide pool home. We herded the sculpin back into the cover of the eel grass without the heron spotting.

prickly sculpin in low tide

I found two striped nudibranch (Armina califonica) on this walk. This species was a first for me and we are getting reports of more sightings at Carkeek Park. Striped nudibranch primarily prey on the orange sea pen, often teaming up for an attack.

Striped nudibranch in hand

Here are a few other fun creatures from the beach. A grainyhand hermit crab (Pagurus granosimanus) pops out of its shell to say hello. Identify this species by its bright orange antennae and blue granules that dot its body and claws. The kids that found the crab carefully back where they found it.

hermit crab popping out of shell

A tiny skeleton shrimp. These abundant shrimp help to eat up detritus and serve as food for anemones, perch and larger shrimp.

skeleton shrimp in tupperware tub




BobbyAbout Bobby:

This is Bobby’s third year as a beach naturalist.

His passion for the Salish Sea started when he and his wife moved to Seattle five years ago from San Antonio, Texas.

Bobby is an avid photographer and enjoys capturing his adventures of the Pacific Northwest. During the week you will find him leading a creative team at a large non-profit healthcare company.

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