Willows Beach to Oak Bay Foreshore Intertidal Paddle - May 3, 2015

[This paddle was led and reported by David Anderson. Thanks to Linda Hall for her photos.] The shortest SISKA paddle of the year is when very low tides coincide with spring and summer sun angles that allow for viewing of intertidal marine life underwater.  When that occurs, we have the annual underwater wildlife viewing paddle.  How short?  Just over two nautical miles was as far as we went.  Two marine biologists, Club President Mike Jackson and Dave Giuliani, accompanied the group, which totaled twelve people in ten single kayaks and one canoe with Dave and guest paddler Andy Ugro on board.

 

 

To meet the inflexible schedule of the tides, we met at Willows Beach an hour and a quarter earlier than usual for SISKA paddles, and at a quarter to nine started our walk along the beach with our marine biologist /nature interpreters giving us a commentary on the below-the-sand and below-the-mud ecosystems.  At the south end of the beach Dave and Michael showed us four circular basins, carved out of the rock a thousand to three thousand years ago by the human inhabitants of that day, for what purpose no body is now certain.  Ceremonial purposes perhaps?   We also were shown and examined sea weeds, limpets, crabs, barnacles and other life of the intertidal pools. 

 

Returning to our kayaks we launched and then paddled slowly to Jimmy Chicken Island (aka Mary Tod Island) looking for marine life on the ocean floor.  At the Island we had rippled water from the breeze that had sprung up since we arrived on the beach, so viewing was not as good as our biologist guides had hoped, at least not until we got to waters in the lee of the island where the water surface was unruffled and viewing improved.  Dave had brought along a viewing box, which greatly improved our ability to see underwater. Sea stars, nudibranch, crabs, kelp, Sargasso and other sea weeds were pointed out to us.   A sea lion, forty or fifty metres from the shore, passed us by, quite untroubled by our presence. 

 

We proceeded along the south breakwater to the marina building, then past the seal feeding area to the beach, where a mother mallard duck was taking her just hatched brood to the water.  Luckily no eagle or flock of crows saw them, or there would no doubt have been a massacre of the innocents.

We then returned to Willows Beach, loaded our kayaks on the vehicles, and sat down at three conveniently unoccupied picnic tables to enjoy lunch.  It was unusual for a SISKA paddle lunch to be with a crowd of people on a popular beach, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.

 

A great day, and a great vote of thanks to Mike and Dave.

Playing amid the rocks 

Mike answering questions

Duck and chicks2

Duck and chicks

Dave 2

Dave 1