The mudflats seem at first glance like a bunch of squishy silt from upriver, but in fact they are a complex ecosystem teeming with life. The eelgrass is a plant that grows in this mud. When tide is out, it collapses onto the mud, but when it's in, the grass can float 4 feet or so tall. Anenomes, nudibranches, countless plankton, barnacles, clams, limpets and many more call this place home.
Today, the kids explored in the blustery February weather, collecting specimens, lifting up rocks, digging in the mud and found many of these amazing creatures. We brought them back to the Breazeale Interpretive center and were able to see their complexity up close with microscopes. There was a strong microscope that showed the kids the plankton, so they got to see baby barnacles, snails, as well as other plantkton like copepods and amphipods. Levi was transfixed, being my microscope lover. He came home and looked up their website as soon as we got home. (PadillaBay.gov)
Under lower power microscopes, we were able to see barnacles send their legs out to gather food from the water, the red spaghetti like gills of some worms, and the fly like eyes of amhipods. I had never seen these things before, though they are in the sound, just a short drive from our home. It made me resolve in my mind to get a microscope we can use to look at 3D things, but even more so, made me realize how much there is to learn so close to home. We have passes to park at all the state and county parks, and I know we'll be putting them to good use over the coming spring and winter.
|English daisies, already blooming|
|At the edge of the tide...|
|Mud snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and a limpet.|
|Our collection equipment|
|2 hermit crabs hiding under this clam shell|
|all the kids from our school, plus parents|
|Our full tray|
|baby dungeness, some eelgrass and some clam shells|
|levi is exhausted afterward. :)|
|Lugworm under microscope. The red stuff is gills! You could see through its skin to see the processes happening in its little body|
|aquarium with anenome|