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 InstituteI 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.
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.
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?
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 Companyis ready to serve you at 8 am and will show the event on TV.
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.
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?
One of the things that amazes me around here is that every beach and the towns near those beaches are different.
The other day I took my in-laws to Capitola, a nice little beach town near Santa Cruz, California.
I’ve only been here once before with my family to enjoy the beach. That was during spring break. While it was entertaining to watch teenagers, the atmosphere was not too relaxing. This time is was a bit too cold for hanging around at the beach.
While we watched some surfers we decided that it is proably a great spot to learn how to surf. The surf seem to slowly come in and giving you enough time to get ready.
We explored the little town with its cute shops. What stroke me as amazing was our lunch right next to the beach, a great meal with a beautiful view.
The colorful houses are the historic Venetian hotel “The first Condominium Beach Community in the United States, built in 1924”.
What is your favorite beach in Northern California?