Californian Corallinas

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Californian Corallinas

Californian Corallinas

On a far too rare visit to California, I had the opportunity to travel down the coast to Monterey Bay, re-visiting familiar spots from my childhood including Lovers’ Point beach and Asilomar in Pacific Grove, Nepenthe on the Big Sur highway, and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

On our return north, we stopped at the Monterey Aquarium and I was stunned to find so many similar corallines in the bottom of this magical pool in the Rocky Shore exhibition. Exquisite!

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RBGE – Seaweed Herbaria Day

We had a wonderful day with the Royal Botanic Garden’s Post Graduate Diploma in Herbology class playing with seaweeds.

Seaweed Herbaria Class_2016

The class all came down from Edinburgh on the train and we took over North Berwick’s Hope Rooms, by the shores of the West Beach.  We had perfect low tide conditions, and deep pools of seaweeds, starfish and anemones to play in.  A very wet afternoon ensued as the group found their pace laying out and pressing some beautiful specimens.  I look forward to seeing the results at the Graduation Show in September.

Good luck!

Rock pools in Spring

The rock pools of late Spring and early summer are alive with colour.  Sometimes though, deep in the clear water of still pools, you can catch the fading hues of winter glowing through to create stunning compositions of tone and texture.  These images were taken at mid-day of barnacles bunched along the tide lines of the blue-green stone reefs reaching out into Ravensheugh beach at the edge of the John Muir Country Park, East Lothian.Limpets onn blue stone

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Californian seas

On a recent trip to northern California, I made two stops to sate my seaweed curiosity.

'By-the-wind-sailors' at Duxbury Reef, Bolinas

‘By-the-wind-sailors’ at Duxbury Reef, Bolinas

The first was a visit to Duxbury Reef off Agate Beach in Bolinas. This is a wonderful marine conservation area of long shale reefs sheltering innumerable rock pools. My mother used to take us here at low tide to scour the pools for anemones, crabs and tiny sea creatures. This time my focus was on the flora and I was captivated by the similarities and difference to the rock pools on my doorstep in Scotland. But it was the bright blue ‘By-the-Wind-Sailors‘, a type of jelly fish which blanketed the beach, that took my breath away.

My second stop was to visit Josie Iselin, the celebrated artist and writer whose work I have long admired. I had never met her, but often look at her online gallery –  a wonderful space filled with images of the things we beachcombers love most – so I emailed her and invited myself over!

Josie Iselin in her studio

Josie Iselin in her studio

She couldn’t have been more gracious and we spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea and ruminated over all things seaweed in her sunny San Francisco house looking out over the Bay.  Her studio is filled with the pieces she has so exquisitely scanned, printed and published, and across her work tables were the pocketfuls of pebbles, shells, sea glass and driftwood that reflect her love of  all things coastal.

Josie's beachcoming treasures

Josie’s beachcombing treasures

Josie’s pictures of seaweeds are awe-inspiring; her images gloriously fresh, dancing strands of colour and light and presented beautifully in her book, An Ocean Garden. You order it from her website or, no doubt, Amazon. Inspiring!

Pools of light

Fluorescent rock poolOver the last few weeks I have been a regular visitor to the great stretches of basalt rock that reach out into Milsey Bay in the east of the town, and to the beach by the 3rd hole in the west, to watch the ebb of Winter flow into Spring. There are a few favourite tide pools that draw me in especially on the days of lowest tides with their beauty and intensity of light and life. This is not a collecting time of year, so I take photos, Some I have made into banners for this site, but thought I might post them here in their original forms.

Red sandstone rock pool

Red sandstone rock pool

Opposite the Marine Hotel, in the low rocky outcrops of the Hummell Ridges, are shallow pools with pink bottoms of exquisite cerise Lithothamnion and rougy Hildenbrandia. Lining these pools are blankets of Laminaria and Fucus, their great floppy fronds forming a protective ridge at the each poolside’s edge, hiding within them a myriad of seaweeds, snails, crabs, shrimp, shells and sand. On the east side, between the Seabird Centre and the Yellow Man, are the dark milky bore holes of the Milsey Rocks.

Irredescent Carragheeen These surprisingly deep craters are home to copses of kelps at one end, and crevices of purple corallines and magenta rhodymenia at the other, sheltering in and out of the orange sandstone ledges. Here the contrast between the red sandstone and greenstone is acute, borders merged by splashes of crustose algae, with iridescent blue Carrageenans sparkling in the first rays of Spring.