The Whidbey team monitored three beaches in May, starting with a special monitoring of Coupeville Beach on May 2. Why special? It was all done by beach monitoring leads who decided to prepare for this year’s monitoring season not just by planning for it, but by doing it!
Our second beach was at Cornet Bay, led by Kelly Keith on May 17, where we discovered many barnacles, seaweeds, eel grasses, isopods, segmented and ribbon worms, and a leopard nudibranch. Here our dedicated Recalibration Team of Toshi Wanatabe and Paul McElwain was joined by a new member, John Miller. We were pleased to be accompanied by several large families of Canada geese, including goslings of several ages who distracted and delighted us with their splashings and scamperings!
We ended at the Rosario Tidepools on May 18. Jeanie McElwain and Kes Tautvydas stepped in for long-time lead, Sammye Kemphill, who had fallen (not at the tidepools) and injured her shoulder. We had a remarkable team show up, anchored by old and new SWS volunteers and joined by three Deception Pass State Park Naturalists familiar with the tidepools.
Rosario is unique from other sites. Most of the monitoring is done on solid rock, along a single line, with quadrats placed at specific intervals along the line. Three teams work simultaneously along the line, each with its own lead and its own monitoring sheets—all of which are different from each other and specific to each quadrat. On the sheets the species, including many seaweeds, are listed by scientific names only, and alphabetically instead of by groupings, and kudos go to the recorders who had to figure this all out quadrat by quadrat.
When the quadrats were done, monitors and recalibrators joined the species leads in the species census…a challenging job because of the complexities of the site and the attention that needs to be paid to minimizing our impact. We were richly rewarded and found many species of invertebrates, including two leopard nudibranchs—one laying its eggs as we watched and a Monterey sea lemon, a partially-open rock scallop, false jingles, numerous chitons, ascidians, two red rock crabs mating, six-rayed stars, and a plethora of anemones, red sea cucumbers, snails, crabs and seaweeds….far too many to even begin to record!
The snacks, mainly provided by Kes and his wife, were generous and healthy, volunteers were delighted at the having found so many living treasures, leaders were pleased at how much we achieved and learned, and we all were grateful for the privilege of being able to serve as SWS and Naturalist monitors at this remarkable and precious place.