Bolinas Beach

Low Tide Adventure. Bolinas, California

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Bolinas Beach is renown for drawing surfers from across the world but does not appear to entice the tide-pooling crowds. This is understandable as the small town of Bolinas is completely overrun when the waves are good. Fortunately the territory of tide pool adventurers and surfers rarely overlap.

There are few features on Bolinas Beach. Most of the surface is sand. However, if you head southwest on the beach you will encounter rocky patches with all sorts of interesting lookings! A tide of -1 is all that is needed for this patch to emerge. As you approach the rocky area you will pass over large swaths of eelgrass. This is a soft, gentle surface to walk upon. Step lightly as all sorts of friends lie underneath. There is one main cluster of large rocks on the beach. This is the best spot to look!    

Ochre Stars

Among the rocks and seaweed you should easily find a smattering of ochre stars. On Bolinas Beach they tend to be a darker shade of purple than what is found north of California. They are more frequently found upon the surface rather than hiding in crevices. Perhaps the thick bed of seaweed prevents them from hiding.

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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Brooding Anemone

This was the only brooding anemone I spotted at Bolinas Beach, though I suspect there were more. It was attached to the seaweed and was maybe an inch across. Brooding anemone are named as such because their young grow at the base of their column, as visible in the photos!

Epiactis prolifera
Epiactis prolifera

Brooding Anemone on kelp

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Epiactis prolifera
Epiactis prolifera

Brooding Anemone on kelp

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Epiactis prolifera?
Epiactis prolifera?

Possible open Brooding Anemone

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Epiactis prolifera
Epiactis prolifera

Brooding Anemone on kelp

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Crabs

There is the typical assortment of crabs for a Pacific Northwest beach visible at Bolinas Beach. Kelp, hermit and purple shore crabs are all easy to spot. 

Pugettia producta
Pugettia producta

Kelp crab in the eelgrass

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Pagarus Spp.
Pagarus Spp.

Hermit crab

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Pugettia producta
Pugettia producta

Kelp crab in the eelgrass

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Giant Green Anemones

Giant green anemones can be found in the rocky sea-weedy patches at Bolinas Beach. Their column (the main part of their body) is a dull hue and will blend in with their surroundings. The anemone's tentacles are a bright green, sometimes transitioning into purple. When they are out of water they may be difficult to spot as the anemone will retract its tentacles. Look for them in pools if you want to see them fully open.  

Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Giant Green Anemone

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Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Giant Green Anemone

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Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Giant Green Anemone

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Anthopleura xanthogrammica
Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Giant Green Anemone

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Bat Stars

There are examples of the largest and smallest of bat stars on Bolinas Beach. The first was approximately eight inches across, the second the size of a quarter. These were the only two I saw and the smaller was completely luck. Be on the lookout, there's likely many more.

Patiria miniata
Patiria miniata

Bat Star

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Patiria miniata
Patiria miniata

Bat Star

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Patiria miniata
Patiria miniata

Bat Star

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Aggregating Anemone

The aggregating anemones at Bolinas Beach are quite the sight to see. When the sun comes over the cliffs these creatures have a rare moment of being enveloped in sunlight. They totally overwhelm many of the boulders and are ever-present in the sand. Look for them everywhere amid the rocky patch.

Anthopleura elegantissima
Anthopleura elegantissima

Aggregating Anemones

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Anthopleura elegantissima
Anthopleura elegantissima

Aggregating Anemones

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Anthopleura elegantissima
Anthopleura elegantissima

Aggregating Anemones

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Anthopleura elegantissima
Anthopleura elegantissima

Aggregating Anemones

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LOCATION

The most straightforward way to get to where you want to be is to enter the beach from Brighton Avenue and head directly to you right. There should be a conspicuous patch of rocks to the southwest. This is the most dense area to explore. Further along there are other similar, smaller patches. Keep an eye on the water as it can be easy for a wave to sneak up on you. Unless low tide is quite early in the day it might be extremely challenging to find parking anywhere in Bolinas.