Stillwaters reveals hidden marine gems

 - Annie Tietje/Staff Photo
— image credit: Annie Tietje/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — As waves crashed farther and farther out into Puget Sound, rare parts of Kingston beaches were revealed, providing a unique educational venue. Stillwaters Environmental Center made full use of the impromptu aquarium and led a beach walk during one of the lowest tides in 10 years Saturday.

Fifteen residents from around the North End congregated at the Kingston Farmers Market to be led by Stillwaters volunteer Betsy Cooper and Stillwaters program director Joleen Palmer through the three levels of the beach — high, middle and low — the last of which is rarely revealed except during extreme tides.

“This is one of the lowest tides of the year,” Palmer said. “We selected this one because we’ll be sure to see crabs, barnacles, anemones.”

“Urchins, eel grass laying down, starfish,” Cooper added. “This is a wonderful place to view upper and lower tidal levels. It’s a special opportunity to see habitats.”

It was all possible because of low water levels that happens every 10 years, she said before the beach walk got underway. Every month, three months, year and 10 years the gravitational pull of the moon causes extreme tides, revealing more of submerged areas than normal tides. Creatures usually hidden by water, sand and rocks were available for inspection, education and a lot of fun.

The walk began at the high tide mark, with Cooper starting out by having five children dig through loose sand looking for large sand fleas. The smaller fleas tend to hop along the surface, but the larger amphipods, or small crustaceans, usually reside under the sand.

As the walk continued, the participants moved down toward the water along the rocks, where anemones, starfish, crabs, kelp, eel grass and other low tide creatures and plants were carefully uncovered, examined and replaced.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” said Indianola resident Sonja Selboe when asked if she was enjoying the outing. “I came especially to bring my grandson, but I would have come anyway. I’ve wanted to learn about the different creatures for a while.”

Selboe said she regularly explores the Indianola beach at low tide, but hasn’t had much of an opportunity to do the same in Kingston. The beach walk was an opportunity to share knowledge and a fun afternoon with her grandson.

The five children, who were joined by two more halfway through the exploration, ran ahead to the low tide area, and made some of the bigger discoveries. Toni MacFadden, 10, discovered a large oyster and a shrimp full of eggs that was quickly returned to its environment after being observed by the rest of the group.

“This is a good day to be here, we can see the structure of the beach,” Cooper said. “The beach changes a lot, the sand moves offshore in the winter and back in the summer... It’s a very dynamic environment that’s changing all the time.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates