Gulf Of Maine
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Two Tides Blog

Cold water sea life blog. Gulf of Maine biologists share their experiences and marine musings from Cobscook Bay on the coast of Maine! Sea life photos, science, and aquarium discussion. Comment and share your stories and questions!

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Welcoming Summer

This morning I kind of overslept and missed the low tide. I had come down to collect some Porphyra - which is a very thin papery type seaweed like sea lettuce. This type of seaweed seems to have several forms - maybe subspecies. Some grow at the mid-tide line and are attached to small rocks in a sandy/gravelly area. Another type is found only in areas of high current, this one is much darker and tougher and is towards the low tidal part of the beach. I did have to wade out to collect a few samples for a customer - so I considered myself lucky that didn't miss the 'boat' altogether. Had hoped to pick a few kelp plants as well but as you know you have to be at the low tide to find any of those...

A few days ago the remnants of a hurricane-driven storm came through our county with lots of rain and wind. When I reached the beach this morning it was not surprising to see a large beach-side windrow of 'storm-cast' rockweed stretching along the cobbly shore. It was a mixture of Fucus or bladderwrack and another type, Ascophyllum or knotted wrack. It was interesting to dissect out the windrow a bit and see just how Mother Nature had delivered this resource to its beachside location as well as what was found living inside. Initially, I suspected that the winds must have torn the plants from their holdfasts (the structure that attaches them to the rocks) but no - it was quite different.

What seems to have happened is that the storm's power actually loosened up the small stones upon which fairly large clumps of rockweed were attached. Rockweed is a name we use for a group of brown seaweed species found in the intertidal in great abundance. These stones of orange and grapefruit size are often buried in the beach substrate and provide a good solid place of attachment for rockweed plants. Once the wind and the waves hit them it is apparent that their foothold on the beach gave way and they became mobile. Because of the floats on the rockweed, that is their air bladders, provided enough floatation for the rocks to then be carried up the beach and into the tangle of other 'storm-cast' seaweed at the high tide line.  See my YouTube video about this seaweed and what happened to it in this storm. Besides rockweed there were bits of Spartina grass, little beach fleas, and other organisms found inside.

 Pile of sea cucumbers.

Pile of sea cucumbers.

I have to share this picture of some sea cucumbers we have here at Gulf of Maine. What a fantastic pile of sea pickles. I just dove my arms into the mass to see what they would feel like...it was creepy. Sea cucumbers don't respond much to touch other than to purse up their tentacles and wait for danger to go away. These guys came from a fisherman in Milbridge, Maine. Ug!

Tidepool Tim