June 8th, 2013
by Dawn Pedersen
On May 18-20, our little family visited Fort Bragg, in honor of my husband Vlady’s 40th birthday. This is the fourth in a series of posts about the places we visited on our trip.
If you like tide pools, you won’t be disappointed at MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg, CA. MacKerricher has a lovely stretch of rocky tide pools at its Main Beach, alongside a stretch of sandy beach. The rocky bits are easy to navigate, even for a toddler, and the waves are gentle. There’s an opportunity to view all kinds of small tidal creatures.
MacKerricher has a lot of other great features, of course. The tide pools are simply our favorite. There’s harbor seal watching from Laguna Point on board walk, and a hike around Lake Cleone along another board walk. There’s camping in the pines, a visitor center, creeks, equestrian trails, and even a glass beach. The park extends about nine miles along the coast, offering a variety of shore environments from rocky headlands to beaches to coves.
There is no fee to enter the park or to park inside.
Our photos from May 19 are below. Click on any one for a full-size slideshow.
The Visitor Center sells nature-theme doodads, and also has a number of skeletons and other specimens on display.
Theo hangs out inside a real gray whale skeleton. Actually, it’s a mix of the skeletons of two whales, coated in some kind of white resin.
Theo poses on the grassy bluff over the main beach.
Painters capture natural beauty on canvas, near the parking lot alongside the beach.
Daddy and Theo leave the sandy beach to check out the rocky tide pools.
Daddy seeks a hermit crab or other treasure, while Theo enjoys the cold water on his feet.
A green sea anemone opens a bit in the shallow waters.
A bat sea star is easy to spot in this pool.
Vlady discovers a few little pools teeming with these small tide pool sculpins. These fish scoot across the bottom of the water using their front fins.
Theo tries out a bit of rock-climbing.
Daddy shows Theo a tiny, silvery, dead fish he found in the water.
This little live crab is smaller than my fingernail!
California mussels form a lovely pattern of rippling shoreline hues.
Purple-y snails line a crease in the rocks, surrounded by squishy closed anemones.
Theo makes up a game of running ’round and ’round in a loop through the water and rocks. Here, he is in the process of falling into the sea water.
Daddy and Theo head out on the nearby boardwalk toward the seal watching station.
Vlady shows off a butterfly he caught right out of the air. He released it, unharmed, after this photo.
A fat ground squirrel lazily regards passersby, seemingly oblivious to the beauty around him, and instead hoping for snacks. We know not to feed the wildlife.
Theo and Mommy (me) pose on the boardwalk above the coastline.
We don’t get all the way to the seal-watching station today. Instead, we traipse down a steep wooden staircase to a bit of shore with lots of rocks and tide pools. This one is full of hermit crabs!
I wish I knew what these grape-looking things are above the low tide line. Animal ro plant? No idea.
Suddenly, we notice an osprey soaking in circles above the little bay stretched out in front of us. He takes a few almost-dives before finally hurtling himself toward the water surface.
The osprey struggles to pull a giant fish from the water using his talons. After seeming to almost lose it a couple of times, he victoriously yanks the fish free and flies off with his next meal.
Theo spends a good deal of time tossing rocks into a shallow pool.
I find a hermit crab and release it in front of Theo. The hermit crab pokes out a few claws, rights itself, and scampers off sideways.
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