Saturday, November 22, 2008

(4) Pacific Pause

I digress, but I learned so much about the Kumeyaay by taking these
adult education courses. This experience put an idea in my head,
but I'll return to that later. In the meanwhile, I had to remember that I
hired on at Cabrillo as a ranger-naturalist. This meant protecting the
indigenous plant life and animal life in this small park; and it meant,
too, presenting information to the many tourists who visited the tide
pool located here.

The tide pool proved a challenge for me, in that I was forced to learn
something totally new. First off I needed to understand what a tide
pool was! To quote from a scientific treatise, "Tide pools are
collections of ocean water stranded by outgoing tides." What with
the tide going out, up near the shoreline there are what is called
"drying intertidal zones" that are home to fish and organisms that
can handle a little exposure to air.

But before I could put on my rubber boots to wander out into the tide
pool, I had to understand better the tides. They are a rhythmic rise
and fall of water. Oceanographers consider tides the longest waves
in the world, spreading half the circumference of the earth. And, as
is more popularly known, the gravitational attraction of both the sun
and the moon on earth cause tides. Simply put, there are the
high tide and the low tide.

And with the low tide, we arrive back at our tide pool where we have
what is called "Zonation" between the sea and the shore. As put:

• Low Intertidal Zone. This is an area that is never dry. Here one can
find algae and kelp--and animals that feed on them, such as abalones,
sea hares, and chiton. Tidepool fish, spiny lobsters, sea urchins, snails,
and crabs are also found in this zone. Most of these inhabitants
can only withstand a small exposure to air, in that they remain mainly
creatures of the sea.

• Mid Intertidal Zone. This zone is exposed to both air and to drying.
Here we find mussels, anemones, goose barnacles, and sea stars.

• High Intertidal Zone. This area is only covered by the sea for short
periods, thus its inhabitants can withstand a longer exposure to the air.
Small barnacles, limpets, and Periwinkle snails are found here.

• Splash Zone. Above high tide level, this zone is only reached by spray.
The inhabitants here are mostly land dwellers that include blue-green
algae, buckshot barnacles, and rock lice.

The small creatures that live in these zones, in the tide pool, have a
very tough existence. Most have to firmly attach themselves to rocks
and crevices in order to protect themselves from battering waves. And,
again, most must be able to survive some exposure to air. Many of
these life forms only "endure."

As for myself, I had to learn how *not* to turn my ankle on the tidepool's
slippery rocks--and I also had to take care over the tourists who chose
to wander into the tidepool, that they not only hurt their ankles but
would not fall into the water.

Nonetheless, I had no complaints over the few years I worked at the
Cabrillo National Monuments. Close to retirement from the National
Park Service, I decided to make San Diego my permanent residence.
Great place, full of all sorts of opportunities when it comes to keeping
active. Anyway, the magic day arrived. My fellows at Cabrillo gave me
a fine retirement party, and suddenly it seemed that I was catapulted
out into a whole new life!

So what does a newly minted retired park ranger do? Me? Well after
some settling-in, I decided to go camping at another national park.

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