Sea Sac (Halosaccion glandiforme)

When I was young, there were many occasions I spent playing down on the beach between Totem Park and the Sitka Sound Science Center. Although I saw many things, there are not too many that I remember noticing and/or being aware of during my childhood. Although I wouldn’t have been able to tell you any official name for it, the sea sac (Halosaccion glandiforme) is one of those organisms I certainly had knowledge of. In some respects, it’s just another seaweed – one of many different species that grow densely in the intertidal habitats here. While not hard to find on rocky beaches, neither is it abundant and hard to avoid noticing. However, it does have a characteristic that seems especially compelling to many kids (and certainly was to me). When found during a low tide, it is usually inflated and partially or completely filled with water (as in the photo above). Each sac also has very small holes (mostly toward the upper end) that you can’t really see. When squeezed gently, the water will spray out of these tiny holes (mostly in the direction it was pointed, but sometimes there were rogues that squirted the squeezer). No doubt it’s not hard to imagine what kids tend to do with these. Perhaps this speaks a bit to the power of child passions for building connections and memories that last.

I am curious if anyone else out there remembers these from childhood for similar reasons. Are there other things that might be obscure in many respects, but caught your eye as a child that you still remember? What drew you to them?

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Fledgling Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A late June trip to the bird viewing platform at Starrigavan was good for seeing some young birds. Among them was this juvenile Ruby-crowned Kinglet. One of at least 4 or 5 begging kinglets scattered throughout the trees, I initially noticed it because of calls that sounded much too close. As I looked for the source, I was a little surprised find it calling repeatedly from a branch almost within reach where I was standing. It stayed there for longer than I would have expected, but did fly to a branch about 15-20 feet away before the time I was able to get my camera out and take this picture.

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Starrigavan Crepuscular Rays

Today’s weather was brought to us by a low pressure center that had moved south along coastal BC. At least if I understand what the forecast discussion was saying, we were getting a bit of the wrap around with clouds coming from the east. This made for relatively warm and dry weather, though there was a bit of a sprinkle this afternoon, at least. This evening after visiting Marge for the first time in a while I was able to get some pictures of what I thought was interesting light out at Starrigavan.

This afternoon I visited with someone who had offered to get me lunch to thank me for helping out reviewing the natural history elements of some writing he had done that was set in Sitka. He encouraged me to consider putting together a proposal for writing a non-fiction (natural history related) book. While I have written plenty over the years (on this weblog at the very least), I am not sure how I could/would tie it into something reasonably coherent and interesting enough to be worth putting in a book. I’ll think about it and see if I come up with anything that seems compelling to me, though. In any case, I appreciated the encouragement.

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Giant Green Sea Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica)

Recently we visited Magic Island (out at Halibut Point Rec) during a low tide and I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph some of the more obvious tidepool denizens which, for whatever reasons, I had not really spent much time with before. Prime among these are the giant green sea anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica).

As I understand it, the green color comes about either directly from, or through interaction with, symbiotic algae. I’m a little curious how those algae get in there in the first place, but perhaps further reading will reveal someone has investigated that. Individuals growing in dark areas (such as sea caves) may not be green at all. Another interesting trait of these anemones is their habit of gathering rocks about them during the cold and dark time of year.

They favor outer coast with higher energy, and are pretty common at Magic Island on the outer shore. It’s nice to find them in tidepools where it is possible to see them tentacles without the distorting effect of moving water.


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Low Tide in the Fog

This morning we went down to the science center for a brief talk followed up by beach walk. The talk focused on possible effects of climate change on intertidal life, highlighting some of the results seen during the speaker’s PhD research in California. The speaker is one of two resident fellows (SIRF) at the science center along with her husband.

Fog persisted into the morning, and as we walked down to the beach around 9am, we could only barely make out the large cruise ship anchored in the bay, and everything beyond was flat gray. Shortly thereafter, parts of the sky became brighter and the fog lifted a bit. It appeared that blue sky might reach us as the clouds dissipated, however it was not to be – they hung over town throughout the day.

Down at the beach I investigated a bit more closely the sea grasses, and noted a patch of surf grass (Phyllospadix serratulus) at the base of Sage Rock. For some reason I hadn’t previously noted that, as it presumably (in my mind) just blended in with extensive eel grass (Zostera marina) beds.

It seemed like Connor and (especially) Rowan enjoyed having some other kids down there to look around with, and I certainly had some interesting conversations about intertidal life and some of the mysteries there.

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Getting Back to It

It’s taking me a while to settle back in after back to back trips at the end of June into the first week of July, but it seems like it’s time to get back into the posting habit. I have several days of back-posting to get taken care of (at this point, it’s been long enough they will probably mostly just be the photos) and of course an ever increasing set of single subject posts to get queued up.

Weather so far this July has trended toward the wet side of things with over 3 inches of rain falling over this past week, but it has been reasonably warm.

Today clouds hung around 200 feet or so for most of the day, dropping even lower as they settled in to an evening fog. The forecast for the next few days calls for partly cloudy and a little warmer, so perhaps we’ll get a chance to dry out.

Other highlights (that won’t show up in pictures) from the past few days include the opportunity to sit in on meetings of fluent Tlingit speakers with a visiting linguist.

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