Low Tide Walk: Wildcat Cove, Aug 19 2020

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

For the last good daytime low tide of the year, I had booked off three days to explore different low tide locations. The first, Bainbridge Ferry Terminal, was a familiar location where I was certain to see a wide array of creatures. For the second day I chose a location unfamiliar to me, thinking that if it was a bust I would still have one good day of lookings left. Looking at a map, I determined that Larabee State Park in Bellingham would be a promising spot to try a low tide adventure based on photos of the beach others had posted online. The rock formations at an area labelled "Wildcat Cove" looked most promising. For this adventure, I had my adventure associate Amanda along with me.

The lowest tide wouldn't be until 11:30 ish so we headed to Oyster Dome, a nearby hike, first at around 7:30 am. It was a relatively quick jaunt and we were able to complete the hike and get over to Larabee State Park a little after 10 am. We parked at the first park entrance on the right as you are heading south on Chukanut Drive, where Google maps indicates the "Band Shell" is located. The trail down to the beach was well marked it the walk took maybe five minutes.

Amanda at Wildcat Cove

When we got down to the beach we assessed the landscape and picked a direction to explore. The beach was fairly busy with a couple groups of children playing in several areas. There are intriguing sections of rock to explore both on the north and south sides of the beach. We opted to go the southern route as there was already a large group of kids stomping through the northern side. We were alone in our spot.

The rocky landscape we explored was in itself quite fascinating with intricate patterns worn into the formation either through wind or water. Ochre stars and painted anemones proliferated throughout the rocks and were quite easy to find. Peering into the gaps between rocks provided small glimpses into alien worlds. Much of the rocky surfaces were covered with tunicate colonies in yellow, white and pink. The rocks in this area jut out a ways into the Sound. We explored the northern side of this feature first. This part forming the southern edge of the cove was covered in seaweed and had plenty of spots of sand and moisture.

Heading around the rocky formation we walked upon parts of exposed rock that would normally be underwater. There was plenty of life hiding out in the cracks of the rock formation, but equally as interesting was the marine life that was visible in the water below. Where the rocks dropped off, the water was very clear and we could easily see the bull kelp forest below. There were numerous live crabs in the water, however they were difficult to photograph. Stars and anemones were also visible, but often far away as they clung to rocks well below the surface. While we were on this rocky jut Amanda noticed a small ferret-like creature among the rocks, which we later identified as a stoat. We sighted him a few more times during our lookings. He seemed quite unperturbed by us, more intent on finding a low tide snack!