Saturday, April 04, 2009

West Coasters

Thinking about a spring trip to the real west coast - Tofino, Ucluelet side of Vancouver Island - and I'm amazed I haven't been over since last September.

That was a great trip, though. Put my camping gear and bike in the back of the car, set up at Surf Junction (good spot, equally far from both towns and well-situated for the big beach and intimate Half Moon Bay).

Campground had outdoor jacuzzi and composting toilets, thumbs up on both.

I didn't drive at all while there, and popped back and forth between Long Beach during the sunny days and Half Moon Bay for sunsets.

Snapped some shots of tide pool life at Half Moon.

Here we have pisaster.

Notice the white sticky-looking strings between the sea star and the rock?

Those are tube feet. Starfish have this very cool hydro-mechanical system that operates these appendages on their bottom (non-dayglo coloured) side.

Tube feet are only found in echinoderms (which also includes sea cucumbers). The tubes and suction cup feet work thanks to a complex water vascular system that the early Romans would have envied.

The feet are for walking. Slowly.

Other Half Moon inhabitants (that I photographed) with interesting habits are anemones. Never mind the let-it-all-hang-out posture, look at the little flecks of stuff stuck to the anemone's body.

Bits of shell and other tide pool detritus. Makes them look sloppy. But a-ha. There's always a purpose. In an elegant little study, a young marine biologist (not me) demonstrated that the anemones purposely cover themselves to protect their bodies from damaging ultra violet light.

The undergrad put one group of anemones under UV light and in a short time they had collected a protective layer of sea crap. A second group, not exposed to UV light, kept themselves free of gunk. When that group was moved under the intense light they were soon shielded by broken shells and pebbles.

Further supporting this. The substance that gives anemone tentacles their pearly irridescent colours also reflects UV light to protect the delicate appendages. You rarely see stuff stuck on the tentacles.


amy rubin flett said...

wow... you take pretty pictures *and* know cool things! i want *you* as a west coast tour guide, please!

boringsahm said...

Stunning photographs!

Heather Reid said...

Thank you very much Sahm and thanks for visiting. I laughed at your intro, so you can't be that boring. Also love the photo of your feral sons (is there any other way to raise them?) painting the fence.