Point Holmes Tide Pools

This weekend I spent some delightful time poking around in tide pools at Point Holmes near Comox, BC. With the fantastic weather of the last couple of days and the low afternoon tides it is an excellent time to be exploring the sea shore. Point Holmes is always productive since it is a mix of sand and cobblestone with a few big boulders thrown in to make things interesting.

I made my way out onto a large cobblestone bar following the dropping tide. After discovering a small cast of Red Rock Crabs I ventured out toward the far edge of water. One of the rules of beach exploration is to move slowly. Walking carefully lessens your impact and you’re more likely to see some of the small things that are often missed.

Here’s just a few of the things that I saw on the beach this weekend:

Purple Encrusting Sponge (Haliclona sp.)
Purple Encrusting Sponge (Haliclona sp.) plus some bryozoans, a few small snails and a limpet!

This Purple Encrusting Sponge (Haliclona sp.) is fairly easy to identify due to its distinctive colour and prominent oscula (excurrent pores). The sponge is soft and velvety to the touch. Note the other organisms on this rock – what appear to be some bryozoans (the mesh like pattern) and some small snails.

Sea Oats
Sea Oats - the distinctive egg mass of a Wrinkled Dogwelk (Nucella lamellosa).

I knew that these were eggs but was unsure of what type of snail laid them until I found more of them and a rout of Wrinkled Dogwelks (Nucella lamellosa) at the base of a very large boulder in the middle of the cobblestone beach. The egg masses are commonly called sea oats because of their distinctive appearance.

Wrinkled Dogwelks (Nucella lamellosa)
Wrinkled Dogwelks (Nucella lamellosa) and eggs.

There were a few anemones that seemed to be doing well in the little pools of water. Below is the Pink-tipped Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima).

Pink-tipped Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)
Pink-tipped Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) - note the small clone to the right of the larger anemone.

Intertidal explorers should add Andy Lamb’s excellent book Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Encyclopedia of Invertebrates, Seaweeds and Selected Fishes to their reading list – its really helpful when trying to identify the intertidal creatures of the Pacific Northwest.