Sacred Cove Tide Pools - September 2010

Some friends of ours have been wanting to know why I rave about the tide pools so much and see some of the things in person that they'd only seen in my albums and blog so we took them down to Sacred Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes.

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It was one of the first tides low enough to see a lot of tide pool life that was on a weekend since the last time I went in May! The tide was 0.11 and it would happen at 5:30 which was perfect timing to see the sunset at 6:30. As excited as I was to show them the tide pools, I was just as excited to get back to them myself because it had been such a long time.

Sacred Cove is Abalone Cove's lesser known sister. Mostly, I think, because there is absolutely nowhere to park easily to get down there! In the past, I've parked on Sea Cove Drive (just west of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park) or in the actual parking lot for Abalone Cove and walked back to the Sacred Cove trail, but they have changed the hours for the lot (it closed at 4pm this particular day) and also the signs on Sea Cove drive require a permit at all times now. So, the last resort was this abandoned house that we'd parked at before, but now the lot was run over with weeds and chaparral and there was a "No Trespassing" sign on a small fence. The area in front of this sign was just large enough for the car so we decided to chance it and park there with the flashers on. I mean, there was not a "NO PARKING" sign. :)

Because I've been so many time, when I go tide pooling, I've decided to think of a certain animal I want to see or just a theme for the trip (birds, crabs, etc.) and this day's goal was to see a giant green anemone. It's possible that I'd seen one before but I always have a hard time distinguishing between anemone because a single species can be so many different colors depending on the conditions around them. Just check out all the different colors within these few observations. I knew if I was looking out for one this time I'd know it when I saw it.

It was great identifying things for J and D and looking more closely at some of the organisms I might have overlooked in the past like these chitons and limpets:

owl limpet I believe
(Lottia gigantea)

chiton (never sure which type)

another chiton - such great colors!

(family Acmaeidae)

rough or ribbed limpet
(Lottia scabra)

The limpets are a species of sea snail. According to the wikipedia article:

"Most limpets feed by grazing on algae which grows on the rock (or other surfaces) where they live. They scrape up films of algae with a radula, a ribbon-like tongue with rows of teeth. Limpets move by rippling the muscles of their foot in a wave-like motion."

Also, at low tide they clamp down on the rocks so strongly that they are impossible to remove with your hands. They would rather be destroyed from above than let go of the rock. Having a strong seal is the only thing protecting them from drying out when the tide is low and they are exposed to the direct sunlight.

Chitons are similar in their eating habits and also cling to surfaces. Their fossil record stretches back 400 million years!

Now back to the anemone. We had been there for a while and the tide was beginning to come in when I finally spotted a giant green anemone! It was in a deep pool almost at the edge of a cliff so I couldn't get a good shot but I was so excited to find what I had been looking for.

Also when we were about to leave, I saw this:

If I hadn't been doing some research about anemone before this trip I probably wouldn't have even noticed it. But those bright white ends of the anemone means that they are fighting! It's a very slow fight, but a battle nonetheless. Again, the wikipedia article explains it like this:

"When the feeding tentacles of neighbor Starburst Anemones touch each other, they would inflate their fighting tentacles (called acrorhagi) and fight until one would move.The white tips of acrorhagi is a concentration of stinging cells and when touched, to an enemy, it will slough off - to keep on stinging the enemy again and again."

Pretty great that we saw this actually happening.

Here are some more photos of our trip.

goose barnacles
(Pollicipes polymerus)
starburst anemone
(Anthopleura sola)
photo by TH

Wondering what happened with the sketchy parking job? We were a bit concerned that as we turned the corner the car would be gone, having been towed, but it was there! The second test - did we get a ticket?? No! But we did get this friendly and handwritten warning note:

"If you are going to leave your vehicle for extended periods of time, do not leave valuables in plain view. If you access the beach/coast from here, you are in violation of 602(1) PC. Thank you for your help." Really??!! I had NEVER heard of anyone getting a warning in LA. Charming.

We had a really great time exploring the outdoors less than an hour drive from LA.

This is a fall of tide pooling so I'll be posting in a few weeks about Malibu Lagoon and maybe even Doheny State Beach. Stay tuned!

Click here for more photos of this location.