On a spur of the moment hike to a secluded, difficult to reach area of beach brought a fine surprise. One can only get here by hiking Endert’s Trail, which isn’t particulary appealing, except for the few views over the bluffs, and down to the beach to a hidden area over slick rocks, moving sand and water. My eagle eyes caught a glimpse of violet color in the sandy, rocky sea floor, and I dared not move.
My girl brought her camera, so I called her over and kept the purple sea creature in my mind’s eye. We waited for the waves and sand that moved over the creature to move low enough so we could catch just one more glimpse.
My finger pointed to the spot where she was to click on cue. I watched the waves ahead, I noted a possible break! Still pointing, I said, “Wait… Wait… Wait… NOW!” Click.
The sand and water rushed over (Sunflower Sea Star) Pyconopodia helianthoides and we moved on as conditions for another photo unlikely. I struggled over the rocks and sub-tidal sands to get to the pristine, unspoiled colony of sea star, mollusks, anemone and other sea life. I counted 8 arms on one side of the star. A feast for the eyes! A feast for a Sun Star!
Large colonies of mussels and other mollusks covered the rocky bluffs. Massive colonies of untouched sea stars in deep purple, reds, oranges clung to the rocks which would soon be covered in the Pacific Tide.
I walked without shoes, the cold water soothing my feet after the hike down to the beach. The water temperature was warmer here than what I remember of the Atantic Ocean at this time of year. Conversely, the air temperature is much cooler. Most folks who visit are surprised by how cold our beaches are, at any time of the year.
The Pacific Northwest Coast waits for the fallout from the Japanese Tsunami. We know it’s coming with the tides. I wonder how this will affect this precious and pristine ecological gem.
Endert’s Beach, Crescent City, California 95531
- Sea Stars Divide into 2 Species in an Evolutionary Flash (livescience.com)
- Sunflower Sea Star (aytacgok.wordpress.com)