Tide Pool group looking for swimming creatures

Look who’s swimming

As a kid I once did a Wattwanderung (mud-flats walking) when we stayed on Sylt, a Northern Sea island. When I signed up for our tide pool walk with the Marine Science Institute  I had the old images in my head of the creatures who appeared just as you pulled back the sand.

So, I was quite surprised to see the interesting rock formations that we walked on and explored. Not too rough a terrain, but you needed closed toe shoes, something that could get wet, and you needed to dress in layers.bucket full of hermit crabs and one shrimp

Rules for tide pooling are: Always watch your kids, and NEVER turn your back on the waves! And of course: Take only memories, leave only footprints.


We saw sea stars (below), a little black crab, a shrimp, and of course hermit crabs. Sea star eating something

Overall this was an exciting excursion. Our very knowledgeable tour guides from the Marine Science Institute brought buckets and nets and knew the names of the creatures and where to look. This made it a perfect day.



What was the coolest thing you’ve seen on the beach?

Keep Donkeys Safe sign

Go see the donkeys

One of my favorite movie quotes is: ”I’m a flying, talking donkey!”

I was very surprised to learn that the real donkey that ‘donkey’ was modeled after lives in Palo Alto!

There are currently two donkeys on the pasture behind Bol Park (http://www.barronparkdonkeys.org/):

Perry, a minuture donkey, was the model for ‘donkey’ in the movie Shrek. Niner, a standard donkey, came to greet us when we were visiting.

Donkey Niner
What a beautiful smile

He has really soft fur and I think a beautiful smile.

I learned from their website that they take the donkeys each Sunday morning out to Bol Park where they can graze on the lawn.

If you have smaller children you might also enjoy the big playground in Bol Park.



Have you seen any other movie stars in the Bay Area lately?

surfer heading out

The Maverick is here!

The date for the Titans of Mavericks  competition has been set for February 12th. This means 24 of the best high wave surfers are invited to compete off Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay. Due to restrictions you might not be able to watch them close up, but there will be viewing parties all around Half Moon Bay, since redbull TV is covering the event.

Thanks to El Nino waves up to 38 feet (11,5m)  are expected. Best to watch early in the morning. But I heard the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is ready to serve you at 8 am and will show the event on TV.

Hanging out with elephant seals

Hanging out with elephant seals

There are two options I am aware of to see these interesting seals up close.
First is Año Nuevo State Park and also Piedras Bianca near San Simion.
In order to see the seals in Ano Nuevo you have to book a tour online that, if you want to pick times that suit you, you probably have to book about two weeks in advance. I think the $7 per person plus $10 for parking was well spent. On a 2 ½ hour hike we learned a lot about the seals and came up close to watch the little babies get nursed.

Piedras Bianca has a short, more accessible, walk up to a viewing point where a park ranger answers questions. Here no reservation is necessary but a donation is appreciated.  

female seal
Female seal taking a rest

January/February are probably the most visited months for the state park to see the elephant seals. Breeding season is from late December till early February. In March the adults leave their pubs behind. Yes! Imagine that. The pubs tech themselves to swim and will depart in April to swim up north.

Mature females will be somewhat pregnant after about 24 days after giving birth, they do a delayed implantation which means the fertilized egg will not be implanted in the wall of the uterus for another four month.

Another unbelievable fact is that the females don’t eat anything while they give birth, nurse and breed, and the males go without food for up to three months while they are on land mating.

Do you know of any other places to watch elephant seals in the Bay Area?