Today was the first time I lead a program on my own at the park and the Sea Slugs showed up to help me celebrate! We came across at least 20 Opalescent Nudibranchs and many patches of their eggs. I have never seen that many of those at once before and it was a wonderful treat. They’re one of my very favorite sea creatures.
Another surprise was one decent sized orange Sea Pen. That was a first for me at the park, if I recall correctly, and I know I had never seen them on the north beach. These had all but disappeared from the park for quite a while according to long time staff members, so the fact that they are starting to show up again is great news. Hopefully that is a sign of increasing health for the Discovery Park beaches.
Squirting clams were a thrill for everyone. “Talking” barnicles were worth listening to. The quarter sized sunflower star was amazing to see – several of the kids had seen the full sized ones at the aquarium and it was fun to compare. The Sunflower Sea Stars can get well over a foot across.
We had a Great Blue Heron stick around on the beach even with the groups of people milling around. Normally, they take off squawking the moment you get even slightly near them. And one of the big highlights for several people was the galloping River Otter that crossed the beach and took off into the water.
I had a fun group of five kids between kindergarten and fourth grade, two moms, and two college age girls visiting from different parts of the country. This group had great beach etiquette and lots of enthusiasm – which made being out there that much more of a pleasure.