Bainbridge Ferry Terminal

Low Tide Adventure. Bainbridge Island, Washington

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Bainbridge Ferry Terminal is a veritable wonderland of creatures. It is a place that does not exist except during low tide. This spot is likely hazardous to the incautious adventurer and is not recommended for those who area easily spooked. 

You'll head straight to the beach next to the ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island. Directly underneath the dock to the ferry you will find a menagerie of exposed creatures. As always, mind your step as there is much to be squished underneath. A little further south is another dock, in greater disrepair. It is quite dark down here, so some sort of light would be helpful. Everything underneath is worth a second look. The waters around here are clear and provide great opportunities to see organisms in their less defensive state. 

 

You can push beyond the second dock, but you'll be heading into questionable territory. Two hours will be sufficient for your explorations of these two docks and it would be unwise to linger much past the reverse of the tides.  Puget Sound

Lewis' Moon Snail

I've seen dozens of Lewis' moon snails at the ferry terminal May - July and not a single one in August. They are rather large but may be missed as moon snails tend to bury themselves in the sand to stalk their prey. Look for patches in the sand that are a darker color and look disrupted. Don't be tempted to dig out the moon snail, but check to see if you can observe part of them. You may also see them crawling along the bottom of the sand in the water. 

Lewis' Moon Snail
Lewis' Moon Snail

Neverita lewisii

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Lewis' Moon Snail
Lewis' Moon Snail

Neverita lewisii

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Lewis' Moon Snail
Lewis' Moon Snail

Neverita lewisii

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Lewis' Moon Snail
Lewis' Moon Snail

Neverita lewisii

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Monterey Doris

I have seen the Monterey Doris both in and out of water and did not realize that it was the same species. There does not seem to be a pattern of where to look for these sea slugs. One was on the beach, another crawling along a surface, and one was in a pool of water in a dock post. Be aware that they can appear as bright yellow in the water but have a much duller, almost brown shade out of water. This can camouflage them against the background. The ones I spotted ranged about 5-8".

Doris montereyensis
Doris montereyensis

Monterey Doris

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Doris montereyensis
Doris montereyensis

Monterey Doris

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Doris montereyensis
Doris montereyensis

Monterey Doris in water

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Doris montereyensis
Doris montereyensis

Monterey Doris

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Shiny Orange Sea Squirts

These individual tunicates look like patches of chewing gum. There is only one spot under the ferry terminal that I have seen them- on the side of the floating dock by the southern pier. They are pretty easy to find and stand out among the feather duster worms and anemones. 

Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis
Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis

Shiny orange sea squirt

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Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis
Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis

Sea squirt and plumose anemone

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Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis
Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis

Shiny orange sea squirt

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Ochre Stars

Ochre stars of every size and color are found almost everywhere throughout the ferry terminal docks. You will not need any help in discovering them! Look out for them beneath your feet, especially at the bottom of large rocks and dock posts, where tide pools form. There are often large clusters on them on the posts!

Pisaster ochraceus
Pisaster ochraceus

Ochre Sea Star

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Pisaster ochraceus
Pisaster ochraceus

Ochre Sea Star

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Pisaster ochraceus
Pisaster ochraceus

Ochre Sea Star

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Pisaster ochraceus
Pisaster ochraceus

Ochre Sea Star

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Plumose Anemones

Plumose anemones hang from just about every beam underneath the docks. Mind your head!! You can also observe them attached to the bottom of posts in the water or simply upon the rocky ground. They have beautiful frilly tentacles you may see extended underwater.

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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Colonial Tunicates

The colonial tunicates Botrylloides violaceus and Botryllus schlosseri are out in force at Bainbridge Ferry Terminal. They appear to proliferate upon any surface. The main difference between the two species is that the tunicates of B. schlosseri are arranged in flower shaped clusters whereas B. violaceus appears to have a more linear structure. Both appear much more shiny than species of sponge they may be mistaken for. They appear in a wide range of colors. 

Botrylloides violaceus
Botrylloides violaceus

Chain Tunicate

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Botrylloides spp.
Botrylloides spp.

Tunicate

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Botrylloides violaceus
Botrylloides violaceus

Chain Tunicate

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Botrylloides violaceus
Botrylloides violaceus

Chain Tunicate

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Painted Anemones

Bainbridge Ferry Terminal provides easy access to see a rich variety of Urticina grebelnyi, otherwise known as painted or Christmas anemones. Large specimens can be found all around- on the ground, attached to rocks, hanging from dock posts. I have even found one individual inside a large shell! The anemones range in color from red, to green, to an olive-brown or a combination of these shades. 

Urticina grebelnyi
Urticina grebelnyi

Painted Anemone

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Urticina grebelnyi
Urticina grebelnyi

Painted Anemone

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Urticina grebelnyi
Urticina grebelnyi

Painted Anemone

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Urticina grebelnyi
Urticina grebelnyi

Painted Anemone

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White-Lined Dirona

Likely it was a special treat to see this sea slug, but you might also get lucky. Check in the water for the dirona, captive water is your best bet such as in the broken off dock posts. They will appear to almost glow when you shine a light on them but are not easy to see in low light conditions. 

Dirona albolineata
Dirona albolineata

White-lined Dirona

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Dirona albolineata
Dirona albolineata

White-lined Dirona

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Dirona albolineata
Dirona albolineata

White-lined Dirona

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Dirona albolineata
Dirona albolineata

White-lined Dirona

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LOCATION

Park for free on the street or pay to park at the ferry terminal. The "Town Way to Water" is the most straightforward way to get where you want to be. Take a left from here when you hit the beach to get underneath the ferry dock. Head further south down the beach to get underneath the darker, more treacherous dock. The beach in-between the two docks also holds some treasures and is worth looking at and not simply stomping over. Don't expect to see many others down there with you other than all your faceless friends!