It’s time for the Beach Watchers Eelgrass Monitors to collect winter samples. The work isn’t hard, but the night is dark and cold and there’s an awful lot of knee deep water to wade through, so project lead Jan Holmes has wisely rounded up a couple of helpers (her husband, Steve and me) to keep her company and carry stuff.
The testing protocol requires that samples come from the same section of the meadow each time.
What do you do when you want to find a particular section of an eelgrass meadow during the winter?
- You choose the night with the lowest tide since July and wait until the tide is almost all the way out.
- You strap on headlamps and don boots with little reflectors on the back.
- You start walking out across the mud flats, gazing at the ground, looking for the markers you planted in daylight six months ago.
- You wander this way and that so that to the casual observer you look like you’re lost.
Jan also noted that the water was higher than she expected given the tide chart. “There may have been a low pressure zone attributing to the higher water that night – the beds should have been exposed. Mary Jo (Adams, a fellow Beach Watcher biologist) was up at Rosario (Rosario Beach, near Deception Pass) and she said the tide levels were higher than she expected at that time of night also.”
Jan Holmes will be teaching a class about eelgrass called Eelgrass: What? Where and Why? at Sound Waters 2010 February 6th at Coupeville High School.
More information about the Beach Watchers Eelgrass Monitoring project is available at Watching The Eelgrass Grow, a chronicle of the inaugural season.
From the Dept of Ecology’s Puget Sound Shorelines site, here’s an explanation of tides and the various tidal zones.