Tidal pools demonstrate the diversity of life

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Special thanks to Publisher of The North Island Eagle, Kathy O’Reilly
Originally printed Friday, June 29, 2018, in The North Island Eagle

The tidal pools along the BC coast hold some of the smallest but most important creatures in BC. Easily accessible at low tide, our coastal tidal pools make great daily excursions for families and children. In my next series of articles over this summer I will be focusing on beachly family adventures to our local tidal pools, ways to increase our beachability, general family beachiness, beach walks, beach talks, and my little girl’s favorite – beach art (which washes away with each tide leaving a brand new canvass!). All in all, my hope is that we can each beach better and get out with our families and kids to explore and learn from doing.

There are certain memories that stick with me from when I was a little boy growing up on Vancouver Island. Fishing with my father on one of the many beautiful lakes we have, picking berries, swimming in the rivers, watching wildlife, dodging the rain, camping, and of course spending time on our beaches. But there is one set of memories that stands out. A set of memories that I think gave me an appreciation for the diversity of our ocean life; memories that formed my inquiring mind’s desire to know everything about our local marine life. The summer exploration missions to nearby tidal pools are probably the stickiest memories I have of summers on Vancouver Island. The slip on the seaweed covered rocks as I scrambled up to another pool, the salty taste of the starfish’s back (yea, I licked one once), the feel of the sticky green tentacles of the sea anemone, the sea snails, the sharp point of the barnacle, the Nudibranchs’ slow sluggish crawl, the skittish nature of the small hermit crab, the porcupineish quills of the sea urchin, the smooth feel of the armoured Chitons, and the unique ability of the Limpet shell to make a series of small “finger hats” for a tide side puppet show! The discoveries are endless.

So, here is the deal. Plan a mission of tidal discovery and go out and explore. Send in your favorite picture of a tidal pool creature and I will write an article about the species and make sure your picture is published. I tried to do this with my daughter Athena. She said she wanted to find a mermaid. I said they don’t live in tidal pools. She said, “Don’t be silly dad, they hide in the sand, you have to free them first”. So, we made some beach art and pretended the mermaid found us and decided to live in the rocks forever. Sadly, she swam away with the next incoming tide. Good luck exploring!

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