One advantage of consistently visiting the same location over long periods of time, is that you can notice subtle and significant changes to the ecosystem. When I first started visiting Drakes Beach, several rocky outcroppings emerged from the inter-tidal zone. They were tiny islands surrounded by acres of sand. It’s where I found this beautiful striped shore crab one morning, tucked between rocks and a wide array of tidal wildlife, including mussels, hermit crabs, and barnacles.
Drakes Beach is not a tide pool hunting location. A large beach forms a crescent shape around Drake’s Bay, with giant ocher cliffs rolling up and down along the shore for miles. Where rocks do emerge along the tide line, wildlife colonizes the limited real estate. Any sudden movement would quickly send a striped shore crab into hiding, but this time I had a few moments to document the scene. At home, later that day, I realized there was more than one striped shore crab in the frame! See if you can find it.
Weeks later, all the rocks were gone, buried under a few feet of sand. Instead of having to climb over the rocky shelf, I could easily stroll down the beach as if it never existed. Large summer tides were the culprit, pushing sand further up the shoreline and wiping out the habitat. These wildlife dwellings were temporary. Now that fall has arrived, the rocks have reappeared once again. Life will take hold and the cycle repeats.