Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

ochre sea star

Scrolling through Instagram last week, I noticed a post by Olympic National Park reminding folks that it was a good week to go tide pooling. Although I have gone tide pooling in the Seattle area, I’ve only been once in California, quite by accident on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. I was so excited to get the chance again! Somewhere along the way I had heard of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, and after checking the handy tide link on their website, I got extra excited about the minus tide they were expecting last Saturday morning. So with Onur heading off to Mount Diablo State Park for a training hike, I went on my own solo expedition. With a lot of patience, careful looking, and careful stepping, I found anemones, sea stars, hermit crabs, sea urchin, and iridescent seaweed.

As I was exploring, I saw a group of ladies bent over a channel between two rocks exclaiming, “Wow!” I waited a bit, then sheepishly walked over, smiled, and said, “I followed the, “Wow!” One of the women smiled back and said, “That’s a great mantra for life.” I thought so, too. She then pointed to a beautiful orange sea star submerged underwater. It reminded me of an Elizabeth Gilbert saying: “Put yourself in the way of beauty.” I remembered thinking, when I heard that for the first time, that that is what I do when I hike. Maybe when you “Follow the Wow”—whatever the Wow is for you—you put yourself in the way of beauty.

Looking down at the sea star, I immediately thought its twisted limbs looked like Usain Bolt’s “Victory” pose.

Wow. Beauty. Victory.

Have a great weekend :)

A few tips for visiting Fitzgerald Marine Reserve:

  • Check the tide! A 1-foot tide or lower is best for tide pooling.

  • Wear waterproof boots or wellies to help you hopscotch over the pools and grip the slippery shell surface. My ankle-high hiking boots worked well.

  • Borrow one of the laminated self-guided tour brochures at the kiosk next to the restrooms to help you identify creatures and plant life as you go.

  • Head to Seal Cove for a quieter tide pooling experience. Across from the restrooms in the parking lot, pick up the wooden bridge and follow signs for 0.5 miles to the Seal Cove Staircase, which leads down to the ocean.

  • Tide pooling is like star-gazing. You find, you look, you enjoy, you take pictures. The joy is in the finding and observing. Please step carefully and leave no trace.