CRUISING AND HIKING......Campers this week were treated to lots of fun in the sun. We started off with a trek to Sunset Lagoon to see what might be hiding at low tide. Our best findings were on a ledge by the Bath Tub. Under rocks we found Sea Stars, Urchin, and Lobsters. Crabs were also on the agenda, and we managed to capture a few without getting bitten. All these animals were examined and enjoyed before releasing them to their home environment, the sea. Probably the highlight of the week was our cruise on the Yankee. We headed out to East Brown Cow island to see if seals might be seen. There were oodles of them! I counted over 50 basking in the sun on the shoreline. The tide was coming in, but still low enough to entice these mammals out of the water to rest and restore their energy. It is always interesting how we exchange glances. Those in the water swimming come close to check us out. Cameras caught the scene, at least those who had zoom lenses. The picture to the right was taken this week under somewhat cloudy conditions. The one to the right was taken on a brighter day when the seals could be seen somewhat clearer.

We cruised on to both Mark and Flag islands checking the activity of nesting Great Blue Heron and Osprey. Of course, there were a lot of gulls claiming breeding space on these outer islands.

The weekend started wet but cleared for most all activities. On Monday we had a memorable trek to Star Fish Cave. The rocks were dry and climb-able, and we had a really great group of campers that quickly began finding all sorts of sea creatures. One fellow even jumped in the water to seek out animals that stayed below the low tide shoreline. He found a large crab and lobster which he let remain in their habitats, but he did find us a Blood Star. We even found an Asian Shore Crab in this very special rocky area. Another unusual find was a Sea Slug, one seldom sees. These are very small creatures adorned with a waving row of gills on their backs. The one we found was similar to the one you see to the right. It was found under a rock. These animals are only about an inch long and can often be found feeding among the hydroids that grow on the edges of our floating docks. You have to be a careful hunter to be lucky enough to find these, but we had one in our crowd this week.

To the left is a page from one of my Sea Life manuals showing the different kinds of sea slugs, also called Nudibranchs. The ones you see at the top with the circle of gills on one end, have a sort of nubby surface, and again, are found under rocks. Earlier in the season we were finding them laying eggs in a sheet of white, soft, tissue. None of these animals are very large, and again require a careful look to find them.

Now, the tides are extreme and we are having a great opportunity to find creatures without diving for them. I was surprised but reassured by the number of campers who showed up for a 6:30AM hike this morning. One camper even brought a box of cereal to dig into as we were exploring the shoreline! I will relate our findings in an upcoming report. 7/23/09 Ronnie, somewhat sluggish!