Saturday, December 3, 2011

Abalone Cove tide pool extravaganza - November 2011


My brother was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and somehow, although I've been going tide pooling for a couple of years, he was never in town when the low tide times were convenient. So, when I saw there would be a pretty low tide (-1.4 ft) right before sunset on the Saturday he would be here there was no way we were missing it.

We went to Abalone Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes. I'd say it's my favorite place to take people for their first tide pooling experience. It's far enough away from LA (about 45 minutes south) to feel like an adventure, the Portuguese Bend area/Palos Verdes Peninsula is gorgeous, the hike down isn't too strenuous and, the best part, you are almost guaranteed to see some amazing tide pool creatures!

Here's where we were.


View Larger Map

I was a little bit nervous about finding parking (sometimes the lot isn't open when it's supposed to be and there aren't really any side streets there so it can be tricky and sometimes requires a little breaking of the law - see this post from an earlier trip to Sacred Cove, a nearby spot) but we found a spot right on Palos Verdes Drive just west of Sea Cove Dr.

The parking lot was PACKED which was new to me since usually there are only a couple of people around, mainly fishing. Then again, it's normally super early in the morning. As we headed down to the pools I was a bit annoyed by all of the people, but I think there was some ranger led tour or something and pretty soon after we arrived they left.

Plus, by the time we got down there I didn't even notice them because the amount of tide pool life was staggering. Within a couple of feet I saw multiples of animals I normally have to search out like giant green anemone, giant keyhole limpets and bat stars. There was a woman following me around with her fancy camera because I kept exclaiming "[gasp!] There's a [such and such]!!". It was amazing.

I also saw a TON of feeding: sea hares upside down feeding on the top of the water (see my brother's video here); limpet with feeding trail (see below); giant keyhole limpets crawling along feeding (see below); and the coolest thing - sea urchins with their skinny little tube feet waving around in the water and moving them from place to place (see this YouTube video by e5peranza). I had never seen this part of the urchins before. It was a smörgåsbord of sorts.

The photos speak for themselves.


Limpet with feeding trail
Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica)
Limpets of different species

Urchins galore! (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)
Red Urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) with purple urchins and ochre sea star
Giant Keyhole Limpet (Megathura crenulata) - these were about 4 inches long!
Giant Keyhole Limpet (Megathura crenulata)
Giant Keyhole Limpet hanging upside down!
AND, as if we didn't see enough, when the sun was setting and we were about to leave we were graced with the presence of a two-spot octopus! I'd only even seen one before, years ago, and this one was larger and less shy. Really great!

California Two-Spot Octopus (Octopus bimaculoides)


Check out my other trips to Abalone Cove here. And my Abalone Cove/Sacred Cove Flickr set here.

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