Have you been tide pooling during a minus tide? We have been to a few places along our lovely California coast and opted to check out a new one, Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve. Oh my goodness! We have never seen so much sea life! It was crazy! Starfish hiding under rocks, purple sea urchins stuck to rocks, abalone camouflaged, crazy sea creatures we didn’t know what they were, and a ton of little crabs. Such a great experience and the bosslady only fell once! 😉
Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve
Salt Point’s coastline is made up of beautifully unique displays of sandstone. This alone is a sight to see and can be experienced even during high tide. The designs mother nature creates are stunning. Several types of wildflowers are able to grow along the bluffs here giving you a beautiful place to relax and watch the waves crash. If all you ever do is walk the trails along the bluffs you will have seen some of the prettiest parts of our coastline. BUT, check out the tide pools during a low or minus tide to get the full experience!
We arrived at the height of the minus tide and immediately headed down into the cove to explore the reserve. The tide was so far out most of the rocks were thickly covered in seaweed and full of life! We climbed over and around as many of the dry sandstone rocks as we could pausing constantly to look for hidden sea life. As we walked along you could hear and see the little crabs diving under rocks to find their hiding spots. And then we saw a starfish and got super excited! And then we saw another! And another! The bosslady was like a kid in a candy store!
Walking slow and careful not to disturb any of the sea life we made our way around the cove. Each step was a new adventure of finding sea life! The crabs were probably watching us wondering what these crazy humans were doing balancing on the dry rocks and bending down and upside down with cameras in hand to see what was tucked under the larger rocks. No rocks were moved (except the one that moved and caused the bosslady to go down). Remember when tide pooling there are many living creatures and we are just guests enjoying their space!
Purple starfish were hanging with the purple sea urchins and one bright orange bat star decided to join in the fun. We have never seen so many sea urchins in one place! Purple and orange starfish were stuck on rocks hanging out waiting for the tide to come back in. Abalone were suctioned to rocks much lower down and were difficult to spot! Some of the sea anemones were closed up and some were hanging off the rocks like they were just too tired to do much else. Then there was the gumboot chiton. This was something we hadn’t seen before. One of the other tide poolers said they were used as soles on shoes a long time ago. I could see that.
While we were admiring the tide pools, an Osprey was busy hunting breakfast! We looked up to see an Osprey with a fish in its talons! He flew around the cove a couple of times almost like he was showing it off. None of the other birds in the area, gulls and turkey vultures, challenged him. So great to see!
Snapshot Cal Coast 2018 BioBlitz
Do you have the iNaturalist app? If you are out in nature a lot, this is a great app to have! You can take a picture of whatever you are curious about and it will help you identify it! Then you can log it and contribute to the team of scientists using this information. It is that simple! California Academy of Sciences (if you haven’t been, go!) and the iNaturalist app worked together to have a week-long bio blitz along the entire California coast! It is open to everyone, next year we recommend checking it out and be part of the fun!
Salt Point Hike and Tide Pools
The tide was starting to come in and there was still more to explore so the hubs and I headed back up the bluff out of Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve and headed toward Salt Point. There were so many people over here! The parking lot had filled up and many of the campers were heading down to check out the tide pools during the minus tide. We were able to find several creature free rocks to walk out on and see large tide pools with so much life! Fewer sea urchins over here but way more sea anemones and starfish! The colors underwater are just gorgeous.
Parents were teaching their kids to be curious yet gentle with everything they found. So great to see littles excited about everything they found! The outer rocks were starting to take a pounding from the incoming tide which made us a little nervous as there were some waves that made their way to us! Quickly snapping a few more pictures we headed back up to the edge of the bluffs where it was dryer and safer. Never turn your back on the ocean…she’s a powerful force!
The sand formations and colors here were absolutely gorgeous! This area was a sandstone rock quarry back in the mid-1800s and was used to build the streets and building in San Francisco. History is everywhere along this coast! The honeycomb-like formations in the sandstone was fascinating to check out. Mother nature is always showing off!
Now that the tide was telling us it was time to head back up to dry land, we plopped down on a bench along the path on the bluffs and enjoyed watching the waves crashing on the rocks below and breathing life back into the exposed tide pools. This was a whole other world up here. Sandy paths through grasses and yellow lupine and other wildflowers and wind and reality. Heading back to the car we were hungry and excited to download all of our photos and video!
But first, food. It was Father’s Day after all so the hubs got to enjoy his favorite breakfast at Cape Fear Cafe in Duncans Mills on the way home. Have I said how much we love that we get to experience so much diversity not far from where we live? Do you have a favorite place to go tide pooling? Leave a comment below!
California State Parks day-use fee $8, flushing toilet and changing room in the parking lot, about a mile of hiking and exploring, no dogs in the tide pools, Jenner and Duncans Mills are the nearest food, check out your tide charts before going!
Things We Love:
The bosslady finally got to try out the GoPro underwater here! The GoPro selfie stick was helpful to be able to hold on to while dipping the GoPro camera into the tide pools to get a better view. Careful not to touch any of the sea life with your equipment when doing this!
Where Else Can You Find Us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!