Tag Archives: low tides

Terrific tides, crab opener, and croaker care

Students and families at Scenic Beach State Park. Photo: Jeff Adams

Terrific tides
This morning was the first in a great set of minus tides.

  • 6/29, -0.4 at 7:43AM
  • 6/30, -1.6 at 8:36AM
  • 7/1, -2.5 at 9:27AM
  • 7/2, -3.1 at 10:16AM
  • 7/3, -3.4 at 11:03AM
  • 7/4, -3.2 at 11:50AM
  • 7/5, -2.7 at 12:35PM
  • 7/6, -1.7 at 1:20PM
  • 7/7, -0.5 at 2:04PM

Remember that these are predictions for Seattle and can vary depending on geography and weather. Should get you in the ballpark though. Kitsap Beach Naturalists will be on several beaches at different times over the next week if you can take advantage of the great critter stories they have to share.

Eagles know where to find midshipmen. The medium to large rocks such as those in this image often harbor midshipman during the summer. Poulsbo waterfront. Photo: Jeff Adams

When you head out to explore the beaches, keep a few things in mind to protect and respect those who call the beach home.

  • tread lightly and walk more than run (you stay safer and see more cool stuff when you’re walking anyway),
  • look around the edges of eelgrass and kelp beds instead of tramping through them,
  • explore mostly under rocks that are smaller than your head and return them to the way you found them,
  • refill any holes you dig, and
  • remember, shellfish license or not, it’s illegal to take most living sea creatures off the beach, including  shore crabs, hermit crabs, sea stars, sand dollars, snails, etc.
Midshipman eggs with the front half of daddy midshipman cryptically visible to the lower left of the eggs. Fort Ward. Photo: Jeff Adams

Midshipman (croakers)
In the big rock category, if you do turn over a large rock this time of year, you may find male plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) guarding pea-sized yellow eggs that are attached to the underside of the rock. It’s a really cool thing to see, but over-handling of the fish and awkward replacement of a heavy rock may be tough on the fish and it’s progeny. If you do get a good look at one, maybe stick to the “rocks smaller than your head” rule and leave the rest of the large rocks be.

These amazing deeper water fish have light producing spots called photophores under their head to attract prey, and some seriously sharp teeth with which to munch them. Each late spring/summer, they rise up to the intertidal to stake out nests under large solid objects and make grunting noises to attract the ladies (the reason they’re sometimes called croakers).

Midshipman, nibbled on and left to dry. Poulsbo waterfront. Photo: Jeff Adams

Plainfin midshipman are important predators, but also fall prey to seals and sea lions and can be a very important part of eagles’ diet. It’s not unusual to find the bodies of eviscerated midshipman far from the shoreline, delivered there by an eagle or crow. They are also sometimes abundant bycatch in commercial shrimp trawls.

Crab season
For those of you who have been drooling for dungeness since Christmas… The recreational crab season opens this Sunday, July 1st, for much of Puget Sound and lasts until September 3rd. Blain/Bellingham/San Juans are the exceptions with a slightly later start and close to the season. You can only crab Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. I guess Tuesday and Wednesday is the crab weekend.

The large hard substrate that midshipman find isn't always limited to rocks. Silverdale Waterfront Park. Photo: Jeff Adams

You’re still measuring between where the outermost points meet the carapace. In Puget Sound, you’re looking for up to 5 male Dungeness that measure at least 6.25″, and up to 6 red rock crabs of either sex that are at least 5″. Make sure their shells are hard and that you record your Dungeness. For crab sexing, you can check out an earlier post, and for lots of great information including gear and regulations, see WDFW’s excellent recreational crab site.

Enjoy the holiday week and the excellent tides, and our intertidal treasures!

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 Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Terrific tides and Bremerton’s Lions Park

Thanks to some of the summer’s lowest tides, there’s great fun on the beaches this week. I’ll put a few events below. If you know of others, please add them as comments. I also wanted to recommend one of my favorite local beaches.

Beach goers exploring Lion's Park's broad gravel beach at low tide. Photo: Jeff Adams

The fast currents that rush through Bremerton’s Port Washington Narrows (the shallow, narrow waterway that connects Dyes Inlet to Sinclair Inlet) create excellent habitat for diverse sea life. Lion’s Park (sometimes called Lebo Field or Lebo Recreation Area) is on the north side of the Narrows and just northwest of downtown Bremerton.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this park in later blogs, but it will be particularly good viewing the next couple days while the tides are around -3.0 and the edge of the kelp bed is exposed. The City of Bremerton has also done some amazing reworking of the park to improve shoreline habitat and reduce stormwater pollution. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tides this week…

  • 6/14 Tues; -2.9 @ 10:30am (better hurry!)
  • 6/15 Wed; -3.1 @ 11:10
  • 6/16 Thurs; -3.0 @ Noon
  • 6/17 Fri; -2.6 ~12:40pm
  • 6/18 Fri; – 1.9 ~1:15
  • 6/19 Sun; -0.9 ~2:00
Peg Tillery, WSU Kitsap Extension Beach Watcher Coordinator sporting the Kitsap Beach Naturalist hat and the logo's inspiration (purple star Pisaster ochraceus). Lion's Park, Bremerton. Photo: Jeff Adams

Beach walks and such…

Kitsap Beach Naturalists
– will join Stillwaters Environmental Center at Kingston Marina and on the beach north of the Kingston Ferry Terminal, June 18, 12:30-2:30pm (Stillwaters will be there starting at 9:am)
– Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA, June 18, Noon-2:30pm
– Scenic Beach State Park, Seabeck, WA, June18, 1:00-3:00pm

Harbor WildWatch and Shellfish Partners
– Purdy Sand Spit on the shore of Henderson Bay off of Hwy 302 in Purdy, WA, June 18, Noon-4:00pm

South Sound Beach Naturalists
– Priest Point Park, June 18, 12:30pm – 3:30pm. and at
– Burfoot and Tolmie State Parks, June 19, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists are on a variety of east Sound Beaches
– Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, Golden Gardens, South Alki, Lincoln Park, Seahurst and Des Moines Beach Park, June 14, 10-1; June 15, 10-2; June 16, 10-2; June 17, 10:30-2; June 18, 11:30-3; June 19, 12:30-3:30

Hope you get to enjoy some time on the shoreline! 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 Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Terrific Tides and Historical Harper

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 bounty.

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 Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Become a Kitsap Beach Naturalist!

Below is a plug for the upcoming Kitsap Beach Naturalist training. This program is a lot of fun, and you walk away having learned from some great speakers and carrying very helpful materials for identifying and understanding the creatures on our region’s beaches. You also get a great hat! Once you’ve completed the class, you can join as a Beach Naturalist on events coordinated during the summer daytime or winter nighttime low tides.

Explore & Learn, a Kitsap Beach Naturalist sign ready for action. Photo: Jeff Adams

Speaking of low tides… Today marks the first full day of spring AND the first daytime minus tides of 2011!

Bremerton minus tides
Monday (3/21) – 1:15PM, -0.7
Tuesday – 2:00PM, -1.3
Wednesday – 2:45PM, -1.4
Thursday – 3:30PM, -1.0
Friday – 4:30PM, -0.4

Join the Kitsap Beach Naturalist Class of 2011. Kitsap County has extraordinary beaches and a lot of people interested in enjoying and learning more about them. You can help while enriching your own experience. In the classroom and on field trips, Kitsap Beach Naturalist volunteers learn about seaweed, fish, invertebrates, clams, crabs, anemones, and friends). Marine riparian habitat and conservation, beach etiquette and beach walk coordination are also covered.

We ask that you attend 4 of the 5 classes and 3 of the 4 field trips to graduate (and receive your nifty KBN hat!) and give back 20 hours of related volunteer service to the community over the following year.

Kitsap Beach Naturalists sharing with beachgoers at Kitsap Memorial State Park. Photo: Jeff Adams

The Kitsap Beach Naturalists Program is coordinated by WSU Kitsap County Extension and Washington Sea Grant.

2011 Class schedule
When:   March 31;   April 7, 21, 28;   May 5
Time:  9:30a.m.-12:30a.m. OR 6p.m. – 9p.m.
Where:  Norm Dicks Government Center, Bremerton

2011 Field schedule
April  7 – Illahee State Park
April 9 – Kitsap Memorial
April 21 -Lions Park, Bremerton
April 23 – Silverdale Waterfront Park
May 21 – Fay Bainbridge

Cost:  $55 – to offset book and field guide costs

For more information on joining the training you can download the flyer or contact Peg Tillery 360-337-7224, ptillery@co.kitsap.wa.us

Thanks and happy spring!

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 Life blog, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Great weather, great low tides and great events!

Foulweather Bluff Preserve looking north across expansive eelgrass beds. Photo: Jeff Adams

The new moon in June is upon us. Accompanying it are likely the lowest daytime tides of the year. Better yet, the forecast suggests we’re in the 70’s and sunny to partly sunny this weekend. What a great time to get out to the beaches!

Some planned events for Saturday (June 12th) are included below, but you can also plan your own adventure. It varies by your location, but the approximate tides and times are…

Kitsap Beach Naturalist volunteer Stephanie Lewis-Sandy (in the hat) approaches a child to explore her beach find. Photo: Jeff Adams

Friday, -2.3 @ 10:50AM
Saturday, -2.9 @ 11:30AM
Sunday, -3.2 @ 12:15PM
Monday, -3.1 @ 1:00PM
Tuesday, -2.5 @ 1:45PM

When the tide is this low on summer days, the plants and animals are stressed by the sun, wind, and heat, so please remember to tread lightly. Watch your feet and walk instead of running, wet your fingers before touching plants and animals, don’t turn over any rocks bigger than your head, and walk around the edges of the eelgrass or kelp beds. If you’re digging clams, don’t forget to fill your holes back in (don’t want to smother the next crop!).

A a really low tide, large geoduck siphons extend well above the sandy beach surface of the Foulweather Bluff Preserve. Photo: Jeff Adams

This Saturday (June 12th) you might want to join one of the following events…

–  From 10am-1pm, join me and the Kitsap Beach Naturalist volunteers as we enjoy and explore the Foulweather Bluff Nature Preserve (Hansville).

- Beach Walk and shellfish harvest/cooking demonstrations at Twanoh State Park (Union) – led by the Puget Sound Mycological Society.

Water celebration (9am-2pm) and low-tide beach walk (late morning) at the Kingston Farmers Market – coordinated by the Stillwaters Environmental Education Center (scroll half way down the page).

A bit of gentle excavation of a cracked and raised area on the beach often revels large moon snails burrowed safely under the surface. Photo: Jeff Adams

Enjoy the beaches and feel free to send me notes, questions or images of what you experience this weekend. Cheers! JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Ocean and Fishery Sciences, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea-life blog, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.