By Jessi Loerch
This weekend, the tides are extra low and conveniently timed for around noon when the weather is forecast to be warm and glorious.
Sounds like a great time to get out to one of our local beaches and take a look at some of the fascinating critters that low tides expose. Events are planned at Mukilteo Lighthouse Park on Friday through Monday.
Beach Watchers will be on the beach each day around low tide to share their knowledge with visitors. They’ll talk about the beaches themselves and the creatures that are exposed by the low tides.
More events are planned Monday and Tuesday and Kayak Point Regional County Park.
Chrys Bertolotto, of the WSU Snohomish County Extension, says that Mukilteo Lighthouse beach, Kayak Point beach and Edmonds beaches — Brackett’s Landing, Olympic Beach and Marina Beach — are the best public beaches to see intertidal life at low tide. The Olympic Beach visitor station has a touch tank, open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends, with rangers to answer your questions.
You can also check out low tide on your own. For the most fun, arrive before low tide so you can follow the tide out as more beach is exposed. Low tide is about 11:20 a.m. on Saturday and about noon on Sunday.
Visitors to beaches will find “A mystery revealed,” Bertolotto said. “These amazing creatures have adapted to live in a changing world. It’s hot and cold, it’s wet and dry.”
Although the creatures are amazingly hardy under variable conditions, they are under stress when the tide goes out, and Bertolotto reminds visitors to be gentle.
“We are visitors on the beach,” she said.
She offers these tips for being a respectful beach visitor.
- Lift and replace rocks carefully. Put them back exactly as you found them. Animals on the bottom will die if exposed to the sun.
- Only pick up small animals, those smaller than the circle made by your thumb and index finger.
- Touch animals gently. Don’t pry any animals off rocks.
- Wet your hands well with salt water before touching any animals.
- Don’t leave any trash behind.
What will you see?
While every visit to the beach is different, there are some critter you may be more likely to see. Sally Lider, environmental education coordinator for the city of Edmonds parks department, say visitors to Edmonds beaches are likely to find sea anemones, sea urchins, crabs, especially shore crabs, small sea stars and nudibranchs. In addition, the beaches are great for bird watching, with osprey, cormorants, guillemots and more. At the Mukilteo beach, Bertolotto says visitors could see Dungeness crab, brittle sea stars and moon snails. The Mukilteo beach is a rockier than Kayak Point. Kayak Point is in a gorgeous setting and you’re likely to find shore crabs, mussels and a variety of worms.
Beach Days at Mukilteo Lighthouse Park
Beach Watchers will be on the beach a number of days this summer.
- Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 am.
- Saturday, 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Monday, noon to 2 p.m.
- July 26, 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Aug. 9, 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
- Aug. 10, 10 a.m. to noon.
Kayak Point Beach Days
Beach Watchers will also be at Kayak Point Regional County Park.
- Monday, noon to 2 p.m.
- Tuesday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- July 24, 10 a.m. to noon
- July 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- July 29, noon to 2 p.m.
- Aug. 12, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Aug. 26, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Edmonds Olympic Beach
The Olympic Beach visitor station has a touch tank, open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends through Labor Day, with rangers to answer questions.
When is low tide?
This site is a great resource for finding out when the tide is low. Just click the beach you’re interested in (Edmonds is under Puget Sound, Kayak Point and Mukilteo are under Possession Sound and Port Susan) then scroll down and select when you want to know the tides.