A Coast Encounter of the Maine Tide

“Come here, Carol! What’s this?!”

This phrase was uttered quite a bit by me, my boys, my husband and father-in-law on Sunday.

We were exploring the tides with “Coastal Carol” of Coast Encounters in Wells. Carol takes small groups out for intertidal excursions on the rocky coast of Maine. It’s an experience worth seeking out if you are ever in my beautiful state.

As the summer comes to an end, the trip to the tidal pools near Moody Beach was our last hurrah. The weather was perfect, and the sea creatures were active.

Good thing because Labor Day was a complete washout.

We met Carol at her house on the beach and were introduced to some of the intertidal animals in her tank. The boys were particularly excited to pick up the sea stars (formerly known as starfish, as we learned).

bizandgtank1We then drove down the road about a mile and found a great spot with lots of tidal pools.

tidalpoolCarol instructed us to first walk over the rocks and seaweed “high and dry” and then “low and slow,” as the terrain became more slippery the closer we got to the water’s edge.

lowandslowWe scoped the area and were told to start exploring. Turning over rocks (and then turning them back over when we were done) was encouraged. We even had a net for the things we couldn’t quite get with our hands.

biznettingWe each had buckets in which to put our intertidal finds – algae, isopods, snails, crabs, sea urchins, etc. We tried our best, but we couldn’t find a sea star.

gandhisbucketCarol was there to answer questions, tell us about what we were seeing and identify all the sea creatures. She even noted a few kinds of seaweed we could eat. (G and I found them to be salty. Go figure.)

carolandbizWe did find a sea urchin.

seaurchinWe found lots of crab, both native and invasive. We actually found a crab that molted so recently, it was next to its old shell!

moltedcrabBefore we got to the beach, Biz expressed his concern with touching crabs and their “chompers.” He got over that fear pretty quickly.

bizandsharkyBiz named this crab “Sharky.” We found him with his girlfriend, “Hutch.” Let’s just say they were somewhat involved when we overturned the rock that was over them. We later put them back under the rock and let them get back to their business. (Side note: I learned that female crabs mate after they molt. I also can now tell the difference between a male and female crab.)

G and my husband lingered a bit in the tide pools. It was hard to leave.

dadandgWe had a great view.

beautifulviewWe brought some of our tidal finds back to Carol’s tank at the end of our tidepooling adventure. And I heard story after story about the animals we found. Until tiredness finally took over.

biztank2Summer may now be a memory, but we sure did end it well.

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend?

Full disclosure: I wrote Carol’s website and received a complimentary intertidal excursion, though the post was not required for the exchange. I wrote about it because I wanted to and it was an awesome experience. The words are my own.

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  1. says

    This looks like a lot of fun! If I was ever in Maine again, I would definitely do something like this. Years ago, my parents took us all clamming near where they live on the Puget Sound and it was such a fascinating experience. I have lots of pictures of the kids completely covered in mud. We all had such a great time!
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  2. says

    Oh that is fun! I love the ocean and learning about sea creatures. So I am curious, why isn’t a Star Fish a starfish any more?
    We had a similar experience with overly friendly turtles at the zoo the other day! Only they weren’t hiding under a rock!
    We went to the lake and had a picnic on Sunday. Then yesterday Jeff and I ran a 10K and the rest of the day we spent being lazy and swimming.

  3. Cindy says

    My niece, sister-on-law and I also had a wonderful Coast Encounter with Carol this summer. Carol’s enthusiasm for all things coastal is contagious. I look at the seashore with even more appreciation and pleasure now. And certainly with more knowledge!

  4. says

    This is so incredibly cool!!!! I did a summer doing oceanography research in college and considered doing that for a living before deciding on medicine, so I cannot think of a better thing to do this long weekend. This is flat out awesome.
    I’m actually re-examining my life choices right now and wondering why I don’t live in Maine where such things are possible. Bah!!! –Lisa
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  5. says

    I love exploring tidal pools. I only really did it once in Cape Cod but it was memorable. I’m so fascinated by finding creatures. It all started as a kid in the woods behind our house. I’d find crayfish and salamanders and frogs and toads and turtles!
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