Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tide Pooling 2012

Oops. While I was gearing up for and staffing the Wellness Fair, I postponed looking at the tide tables. It looks like our family missed a wonderful opportunity this weekend. The mid-afternoon low tide reached -1.4 (1.4 feet below mean low tide). Whenever the low tide reaches about -1.0 or below, the tide pools at Abalone Cove are exposed.

Photo courtesy of Steve Wolfe's slideshow of Abalone Cove.

If you had gone this weekend, the weather would have been windy, chilly and you might even have experienced intermittent rain showers. However, the tide pool denizens are more likely to be active in cold and damp weather than on hot, sunny days.

Hardy folks who went yesterday might even have been treated to the sight of TWO WHALES BREACHING SIMULTANEOUSLY. From the ACS/LA logbook for 21 Jan 2012:

As of 21 JAN 2012

Southbound Today --------------- 17
Northbound Today ---------------- 0
Total Whales Today ------------- 17
Southbound Calves Today --------- 0
Northbound Calves Today --------- 0

Season to Date (since 1 Dec 2011)

Southbound -------------------- 472
Northbound ---------------------- 5
Total ------------------------- 477
Calves South ------------------- 16
Calves North -------------------- 0

Message from the observers: High winds and BREACHING gray whales! Two different whales were breaching at the same time: one breached four times, and the other breached once. A short time later, another whale breached three times; we actually found this whale when it first breached. We saw flukes on three of the ten sightings. All sightings were within a mile offshore; one was just beyond the kelp line. We also spotted a large pod of common dolphin. The day ended with a series of three green flashes; the last flash turned blue at the end.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Cetacean Society takes their census of the near-shore migratory route from the patio of the Palos Verdes Interpretive Center. Local newspapers had reported an unprecedented number of whales sighted in the early season. (No one can tell if this is a shift toward an earlier migration or a shift in routes or an increase in total whale population.)

Our family stopped by Point Vicente on our way home last weekend with our binoculars. The whale census taker on duty said that she had only seen two whales that day. We did see countless birds of many varieties, a large pod of cavorting dolphins just beyond the kelp line and two sea lions lazing on the rocks.

There's still plenty of good whale watching opportunities this year. And there will be another good tide pooling opportunity at Abalone Cove the weekend of February 18-19, 2012.

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