Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"The Highest Tide" professor hits our beach


This is Alan Rammer and a mottled sea star at Kopachuck Beach. Alan is the guy who inspired the character of Professor Kramer in the WONDERFUL novel, "The Highest Tide" by Olympia, WA, author Jim Lynch.

The "prof," who in real life taught lucky kids about the wonders of the sea for Washington state, led a free beach walk this weekend at Kopachuck. Dave and I were out there to volunteer with Harbor WildWatch, which we recently joined, and we got to be part of the enthusiastic throng that followed him up and down the beach for an excellent adventure. Here are some photos:

Lots of budding young naturalists showed up, and most of them knew more than I did. Alan fed us fascinating facts such as: Sea cucumbers can blow their guts out from their mouth OR from the other end. And the oldest recorded geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck") clam was 164 years old and was from the Puget Sound. It beat out the previous claim from Alaska.

Sea stars don't always have five arms. A sunflower star like this one can grow more than 20.

This is the bottom of the sunflower, showing its little sucking tube feet. Alan reminded everyone to only touch the sea critters with wet hands and to gently place them back where they were found. How would you like it, he asked the kids, if a giant picked you up and then put you back in the wrong house?

This is a male red shore crab. Notice the purple ta-tas. Alan said the males of this species grow bulbous purple pincers which they wave around to attract females. As he put it, the crab with the biggest pom poms get the girl, sort of the opposite of the human species. If you EVER get a chance to hear this guy speak, GO.


And afterward, go to The Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor for the best sweet potato fries I've ever come across. We adjourned there after the beach walk and stuffed ourselves, as usual. (To replace those calories burned up on the walk.)

If you haven't yet read "The Highest Tide," check out some reviews by clicking here and here. The Pierce County libraries have it, as do any good book stores worth their salt.

Now, to give proper credit for the beach walk/talk: It was sponsored by Shellfish Partners, which is made up of the Pierce Conservation District (farms, streams), Tacoma Pierce County Health Dept. (septic systems, solid waste), and Pierce County Surface Water Management (flooding, storm water) ... and they say:

DON'T POLLUTE OUR WATER!

DON'T POISON OUR STARFISH AND SAND DOLLARS
AND FEISTY MALE CRABS
AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT LIVES HERE!

Anything that hits the ground
eventually ends up in The Puget Sound.

2 comments:

BarbsBlog said...

The Highest tide is available from the Pierce County Library system in audio book form, too! Great listening for a summer road trip. I heard it a couple of months ago, and would happily listen again, or curl up in the hammock with print book in hand.

Ladybug said...

I, too, have had the pleasure of hearing Alan speak a few years ago when I worked at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center. We can never say enough about protecting our waters and sealife. I've read The Highest Tide & enjoyed it very much. Another book I'd recommend is Strand – An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris by Bonnie Henderson. This book Researches the Flotsam and Jetsam Washed up by the Sea - mostly on the Oregon Coast. Each item she finds has an interesting story attached to it.