Yesterday, our AP Biology class had the opportunity to take a field trip to the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Half Moon Bay.
When we first arrived, our guide showed us some seals with their babies. She said that seals were giving birth at this time of the year, and we all thought that the baby seals were very adorable!
We also saw many strange, transparent creatures washed up on shore with little sails. Our guide explained to us that these creatures were called Velella velella, and that they have been washing up on shores on the West Coast recently. I found this very interesting because I had never seen anything like these organisms before, and they were all over the beach!
Afterwards, we finally began our task at hand. Our class was split up into groups, and each group was assigned 2 small grids along the tide pool. In each grid, we tallied up either the number of each particular organisms or the number of squares each organism was in. My group was assigned the grid at the 25th meter mark and the 3 meter mark. At the 25 meter mark, there were many different organisms so it took a while to tally up everything. At first glance, it didn’t seem like there was much in the grid. However, we moved around the seaweed a bit and looked closer, discovering that there were at least 25 different species of organisms thriving in one patch of the tide pools! We saw a sea urchin, sea anemones, many different species of seaweed, leaf barnacles, and a turban snails just to name a few.
We then moved to the 3 meter mark to examine the organisms in the grid. In this grid, there was very few variation. We only saw a few small patches of seaweed and many tiny barnacles and limpets. The lack of variation and amount of organisms at the 3 meter mark is probably because it is farther away from the ocean itself.
Afterwards, we all split up into 2 groups in one larger patch of the tide pool where all the giant sea anemones lived.Our guide divided the larger patch in half, and each group scrambled to count the number of giant sea anemones there were in our respective areas. Some of these anemones were so large that they were probably comparable to the size of someone’s face!
Overall, though I almost slipped and fell several times, I had fun exploring the area, tallying the organisms, and discovering all there was to offer at Fitzgerald. I live near Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, but I’ve only been to the reserve a handful of times and never took the time to notice the amount of diversity in each nook and cranny. It’s fascinating how much life a small tide pool supports, and I’m grateful that we have access to this amazing little sanctuary. I will definitely be going back to the tide pools to see what kinds of new creatures are here the next time!
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve picture: http://www.thewildbeat.com/2009/06/17/splendor-in-the-low-tide/
Other images are mine.