Green Burrowing Anemones

Miracle Beach Provincial Park is a spectacular place to take kids tide pool exploring—the wide expanse of sand allows for plenty of running in bare feet and the warm shallow tide pools are great for wading and searching for sea life.

This weekend I took Alden and Clara up to “the beach house” and kept one eye on the dropping tide. As the water receded, we put on our sandals and headed over the tricky barnacle encrusted cobble to the sand flats beyond.

In the stretch of sand just beyond where the rocks end we usually find the siphons of horse clams. This time we noticed something similar, but a little different. The round dimple in the the sand looked the same, but without the hard obvious plates that you normally see on the end of the clam siphons. The kids took a quick look, but were more focused on heading to the water’s edge and running in the waves. Sandals were left behind and off we went.

Alden and Clara
Alden and Clara wade into the water at the ocean’s edge.

After close to an hour of questions about sand dollars, “baby” sculpins (because they were small) in the tide pools, “baby” hermit crabs (because they were small), seaweed, moonsnail egg collars and more it was time to head back to our sandals.

By this time both kids were covered with sand and needed to rinse off before putting sandals and clothes back on. We found a small warm tide pool close to the edge of the cobble beach and it was here that we discovered more green burrowing anemones (Anthopleura artemisia). Here they were open and much easier to identify than on the dry sand.

Green Burrowing Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia)
A Green Burrowing Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia) in a tide pool at Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island, BC.

In the water, these beautifully delicate anemones were too much of a distraction and the process of getting into footwear was quickly forgotten. We found a couple that were brown in colour and several that were green, tentacles extended softly into the warm water and grasping at anything that happened to get too close. A small shore crab scuttled away from small toes, but got too close and was nearly drawn into the mouth at the center of the anemone’s disk—the kids cheered as it worked its way free.

Green Burrowing Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia)
The Green Burrowing Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia) comes in a variety of browns and greens. The anemone attaches itself to a rock or other object under the sand.

Once the crabs were discovered, we found more buried up to their eye stalks in the sand and others wedged in close to the sides of the anemones. A dangerous place to be, but the crabs that didn’t become food had a bit of shelter and could grab any scraps that the anemones might miss. I’m always amazed at how much life can be found in a small intertidal pool, especially if you slow down to take a look. Young kids help adults to do that sometimes.

Still a little sandy, we put our sandals back on and made our way back over the rocky cobble. The kids love it at the beach and I’m glad they do. We’ll be back to look for more sea anemones soon!