Alki Water Taxi Dock

Dock Fouling Adventure. West Seattle, Washington

The three floating docks at Alki's water taxi terminal are more than enough to satisfy the urban dock-fouler. Expect to enjoy some relative solitude among the recreators at Alki. Apart from the rare boat coming or going not many people come to this small portion of the pier. 

There are plenty of organisms living directly underneath the docks. If you are careful you may pull up long strands of seaweed that are the homes to numerous critters! 

A few hundred feet away is a restaurant and public toilets, making this the perfect location for your dock fouling marathon. This spot is perfect for downtown dwellers- simply take the water taxi across and walk for thirty seconds.

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Northern Feather Duster Worms

The feather duster worms are the most prominent and dazzling feature underneath the dock. They are quite close to the surface so even if you don't have an underwater camera you are likely to snap some good shots of these guys. The visible part of the worm, the tentacles, will quickly retract inside the tube when approached. Don't worry, the tentacles are not harmful. These worms use them to filter feed on plankton.

Eudistylia vancouveri
Eudistylia vancouveri

Northern Feather Duster Worms

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Eudistylia vancouveri
Eudistylia vancouveri

Northern Feather Duster Worms

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Eudistylia vancouveri
Eudistylia vancouveri

Northern Feather Duster Worms

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Eudistylia vancouveri
Eudistylia vancouveri

Northern Feather Duster Worms

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Kelp Lace

Kelp lace is a form bryozoa, or encrusting sponge, that grows upon the seaweed. It is easily overlooked. Similar to chain tunicates, the bryozoa is a colony of individuals that share a protective outer layer. Carefully examine a blade of seaweed and you are likely to spot them.

Membranipora membranacea
Membranipora membranacea

Kelp Lace

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Membranipora membranacea
Membranipora membranacea

Kelp Lace

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Skeleton Shrimp

The fouling underneath these docks is crawling with these little shrimp. Bring a plastic food container if you wish to get a better look at them. Their odd locomotion can be quite intriguing to observe.

Caprellidae
Caprellidae

Skeleton shrimp

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Caprellidae
Caprellidae

Skeleton shrimp

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Caprellidae
Caprellidae

Skeleton shrimp

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Caprellidae
Caprellidae

Skeleton shrimp

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Plumose Anemones

A great variety of plumose anemones  are attached to this dock. They are either white or a shade ranging from tan to brown. The anemones range in size from a couple of inches across the base to about six inches. There are plenty within camera range but far more can been seen in the depths of the water. 

Metridium senile
Metridium senile

Plumose Anemone

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Metridium senile
Metridium senile

Plumose Anemone

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Metridium senile
Metridium senile

Plumose Anemone

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Metridium senile
Metridium senile

Plumose Anemone

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Tunicates

There are not a lot of visible tunicates when you peer over the side of these floating docks. Presumably there are many down there! To see one up close, try to delicately haul up a piece of seaweed and examine it carefully. Small colonies may appear as brightly colored blobs.

Botrylloides violaceus
Botrylloides violaceus

Chain Tunicate

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Botrylloides violaceus
Botrylloides violaceus

Chain Tunicate

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Thick-Horned Nudibranch

Sea slugs can be found all throughout the fouling. This nudibranch was found upon a blade of seaweed and delicately placed into a plastic food container with seawater. After his photo-shoot he was delicately placed back onto his seaweed. This species will stand out because of its bright coloration, however they may form a tight ball and may not look like anything much at all.

Hermissenda crassicornis
Hermissenda crassicornis

Thick-horned nudibranch

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Hermissenda crassicornis
Hermissenda crassicornis

Thick-horned nudibranch

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Hermissenda crassicornis
Hermissenda crassicornis

Thick-horned nudibranch

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Hermissenda crassicornis
Hermissenda crassicornis

Thick-horned nudibranch

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LOCATION

Park for free in the lot or on the street. Better yet, take the water taxi from downtown and arrive directly at your destination. Walk down the ramp towards the water taxi terminal. Hang a right just as you hit the bottom. There are three small floating docks here that you can easily spend an hour or two examining. Check the water taxi time table in advance to avoid peak traffic times. 

 

DEFUNCT! The portion of this dock that was suitable for dock fouling has been removed. You can still catch glimpses of cool creatures off the side but they are highly inaccessible.