Sunday, September 29, 2013

Western Sacred Cove Tide Pools - September 2013


Again it had been some time since I had visited the tide pools (I went with V back in January) and A was free so we headed down to Rancho Palos Verdes. The low tide (0.78 ft) was at 5:30. In all the years we have been friends, this was the first time I was able to show her one of my favorite tide pooling spots and, once again, it did not disappoint. Here's where we were:


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We parked on Sea Cove Drive past the Abalone Cove parking lot because it had already closed. This area (called Portuguese Bend) is on a slow landslide and we saw evidence of this as we walked from the car past Abalone Cove and over to Sacred Cove. In the photo below, you can see on the left side where the road used to be (I think even as recently as my last trip just 8 months before!) and where it is now. It looks like the road dropped and shifted over quite a bit.


I couldn't find a mention of this particular land movement online, but here is an article about a similar event that happened in Nov 2011. Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy even offered this guided tour of the landslide area earlier this year. Just a little reminder that the earth lives!

Once we got to the path that leads down to Sacred Cove we decide to take the right fork (to the western side of the cove) on a whim.


I've visited the eastern part of the cove many times, but never the western side. It's quite different in terms of land formation, but there is just as much to explore. From this side you can see into the cave-like formation.  Really cool and I love the low sound the water makes as it rushes into the cave.


There were a ton of owl limpets (and other limpets) here.



Owl limpet covered with Thatched barnacles
At first the coast has large mossy-covered rocks, but then as you get closer to Portuguese Point it's more of a shelf. Sometimes these higher shelf-like areas don't have much tide pool life because they are too high for animals to get stuck in, but in this case there was quite a bit to see.




We saw the usual starburst anemone but there were also groups of colonizing (or aggregating) anemone and even some giant green anemone. There were plenty of striped shore crabs and hermit crabs around. The most surprising find for me was a small giant sea star (sometimes called a knobby star) laying out in the open.

Aggregating Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)
Blueband Hermit (Pagurus samuelis)
Giant Sea Star (Pisaster giganteus)
These are distinguished from the more common ochre sea stars by the bluish rings around their spines and the lack of a pentagon shape in the center. Their spines are more random compared to the straights lines radiating from the center that the ochre stars have. I have only seen these a few times and the other times they were very large (living up to their name I guess).

We were treated with a gorgeous sunset as we walked back up the hill and to the car. Really a perfect little adventure.



For more of my photos of this area, see my Flickr set.

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