Harper fishing pier on the right and
ferry "dolphin" on the left. The dolphin was removed in 2009
shortly after this picture was taken. Jeff Adams
Along with the amazing sea life you might encounter around the
Kitsap Peninsula, the Salish Sea and beyond, I also want to
periodically highlight some beaches that host our saltwater
The area of South Kitsap from the Harper pier, south into a
pocket estuary is a great place to watch birds, dive, reflect on
history and our shoreline fingerprint, launch a boat, and explore
the beach. The area uncovered by a low tide is a real hodgepodge of
public and private ownership, but the boat launch and fishing pier
are readily identifiable public access points.
Harper has a history well worth noting. The fishing pier stands
were the ferry system linked Kitsap to Vashon and West Seattle
until the early 1960′s. Until their 2009 removal, a remnant of the ferry dock
(a cluster of deteriorating creosote pilings called a dolphin)
could be seen at the end of the pier.
The Harper pier is frequented by divers and anglers alike.
For divers, there are even a couple wrecked
boats to explore beyond the pier. The sport plumose anemones, kelp
crabs, barnacles and other piling fare to enjoy. Divers also find
abundant lures, lines, bottles and mobile phones lost by the piers
other regular users. It’s also a great place to see birds and get a
great view of the Central Puget Sound.
A pile of brick from one of the Harper
Clay Products brick dump areas. Jeff Adams
A fascinating history lies on the beach near the boat launch,
and just under the surface. The Harper Clay Products Company
started making bricks from nearby clay in the late
1800′s (click here for some great old photos and maps). The
good bricks can still be seen in Pioneer Square buildings in
Seattle and in the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia. The discarded
bricks, however, are abundant near the boat launch as one of the
“brick dump” areas used by the factory. The bricks wind up
supporting barnacles, rockweed and some other animals that live on
hard surfaces, though in the areas where they’re piled deeply, they
don’t do any favors for the mudflat organisms that would have been
there in their absence.
A rich pocket estuary and salt marsh lies to the south of the
boat launch and road. The culvert that feeds this area is the
subject of restoration interest, with the intent of broadening the
salt marsh habitat to its historic extent.
As for this week’s great low tides…
Our first -3 tides of the season are today and tomorrow. Excellent
mid-day minus tides continue through Sunday. As a bonus, it looks
like we’re even in for a few sunny days.
A layer of discarded Harper bricks can
be seen on the eroded edge of the boat launch. Picklweed and grass
now grow on top. Jeff Adams
5/17, -3.0 at 11:30am, Tuesday (better hurry:)
5/18, -3.2 at 12:10pm, Wednesday
5/19, -2.9 at 1:00pm, Thursday
5/20, -2.3 @ 1:40pm, Friday
5/21, -1.3 @ 2:30pm, Saturday
5/22, -0.2 @ 3:15pm, Sunday
Head out to Harper or your favorite walking, birding,
shellfishing, trash cleaning, beachcombing, all around breathtaking
beach to enjoy the low tides and maybe a bit of sunny and sixty for
a change. Time to trade knee boots for sandals? Cheers! JEff
Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist,
affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the
Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea
SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 360-337-4619.
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