Of time and tides


What: Low Tide Exploration

When: 10 am Sat., Aug. 11

Where: Marine Park, 200 McKenzie Ave.

Cost: $8 for kids, $12 for adults

Info: http://www.wildwhatcom.org

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.”
—David Suzuki

No matter what age I am, being around for low tide continues to be akin to witnessing one of the best magic tricks ever.

It happens slowly but steadily, and within a matter of hours the water recedes and the world that was previously underwater is exposed. Crabs both large and small scurry or burrow among the shin-deep eelgrass beds, clams spurt saltwater more than two feet into the air, and herons swoop majestically before dipping their long beaks into the shallows while sourcing their next meal. Starfish glisten, rocks draped with barnacles are exposed, and unknown creatures lie underfoot.

I grew up in the landlocked confines of Idaho, but was lucky enough to get to spend many summers on Lummi Island, where my siblings and I experienced low tides on a regular basis—both on the beach in front of our cabin and on day trips to nearby Birch Bay, where we liked to imagine the swaths of exposed sandbars could take us all the way to Canada.

And whether we were on the hunt for Dungeness crabs, rowing lazily along the shore gazing down at the marine machinations happening a few feet beneath us, or building temporary sandcastles during long summer afternoons, there’s no denying these experiences contributed to a lasting appreciation for the natural world.

The powers that be at Wild Whatcom are obviously familiar with the idea that youth who are exposed to the wonders of Mother Earth are more likely to want to help sustain her for future generations. At a “Low Tide Exploration” taking place Sat.., Aug. 11 at Bellingham’s Marine Park, they’ll be joined by Casey Pruett, the director of Squalicum Harbor’s Marine Life Center, to help expose the mysteries.

During the -2.5 low tide, attendees of all ages can find out what it’s like to live in an eelgrass meadow and imagine how most sea creatures live on the edge of life and death daily, in the toughest conditions imaginable. They can also discover the many places creatures call home at the park at the base of Harris Avenue, and see where they hide, lay eggs, rear their own young and even meet for lunch.

If the guided excursion is full, explore a local beach on your own or catch up with Pruett at the Marine Life Center (http://www.marinelifecenter.org), where thousands of visitors a year are introduced to octopus, sea stars, sculpins, hermit crabs, anemones and more via aquatic displays and a hands-on touch tank.

With a mission to promote the stewardship of marine life and local waterways through interaction, Pruett and her crew aim to improve, restore and maintain marine habitat for fish and invertebrates living in the Salish Sea. It’s a lofty goal, but one that remains vital in a rapidly changing world.

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