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January 14, 2014 at 6:45 PM

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Northwest Wanderings: Low tide night beach walk


On a minus 1.5 nighttime beach walk, a red rock crab is spotted in the eel grass at Constellation Park and Marine Reserve in West Seattle.

It's splendor in the grass -- eel grass.

"We've got sex on the beach," announces Seattle Aquarium naturalist Larry Reymann.

During a minus 1.5 tide at night, more than two dozen naturalists are leading small groups on a journey of discovery at West Seattle's Constellation Park and Marine Reserve.

Creatures in their habitat seldom seen will be seen, with the help of flashlights and head lamps.

Two Dungeness crabs, burrowed in the sand for a little privacy, are mating.

Red rock and kelp crabs quickly move about.

Get too close and they'll raise their claws.

Reymann says, "It's like a warrior beating his shield. Come a little closer and I'll show you."

A five-rayed sea star has two missing. In time, those rays will grow back.

Reymann and other group leaders point out the diversity of Puget Sound and creatures "that aren't out in the daytime."

Empty clam shells are scattered on the exposed beach, the clams having been eaten by moon snails and sea stars.

A sea star opens a clam shell, puts its stomach inside and digests dinner. It's an easy meal.

Reymann says, "You don't have to be too fast to outrun a clam."


This group checks to see what might be hiding in the crevices of a rock revealed by a minus tide at Constellation Park and Marine Reserve in West Seattle.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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