Outings + Activities

Beach naturalists on hand during summer low tides

061511_enews_beachwalkI'm looking outside and it's not exactly the type of sparkling blue-sky morning that would prompt a mama to dig out the kids' water shoes, pack up some gear, and drive to the nearest beach for a day of splashing around in the shallows.

I have mixed feelings about this.

We're experiencing the first of the summer's low tides this weekend, and that means that there are plenty of opportunities for families to poke around at the water's edge under the guidance of Seattle Aquarium's beach naturalists, who can point out critters and teach kids how to deal with them in a friendly way. It's good -- it just might be a little chilly today. (Bring the fleece.)

On the other hand, I've been at the Carkeek Park beach on gorgeous summer low-tide days, when the packed sand at the tideline is crawling with excited people, and I've cringed at the sight of kids (and adults) running from rock to rock and turning them over carelessly, trampling eel grass beds, stomping on sea anemones to make them squirt, poking at sea stars with sticks and fingers. I don't want to turn into a cheerless old lady who glares at these folks, muttering under her breath about HABITAT DESTRUCTION, but dang -- it's hard to watch, knowing how vulnerable intertidal animals are to heedless treatment by humans.

A cool, kinda cloudy morning isn't going to draw huge crowds, and a part of my inner cheerless little old lady is kinda glad about that.

But kids aren't going to learn how to treat the beach unless we teach them, and this weekend, you have a great opportunity to show them the breathtaking bounty uncovered by a very low tide. And the presence of well-trained beach naturalists means that you can also learn how to enjoy the sea stars, sea anemones, shrimp, crabs and occasional octopus without imposing a very bad day on them. More on beach etiquette!

Beach naturalists are at parks in Seattle, Shoreline, Des Moines and Burien in July. When you see them in their brown vests, field guides in hand, don't be shy -- they're there to talk to you!

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