Nighttime tide pool walk offers an otherworldly experience

A participant examines a crab by the light of a headlamp at Marine Park in December 2015.
A participant examines a crab by the light of a headlamp at Marine Park in December 2015. rmittendorf@bhamberald.com

Wild Whatcom, a Bellingham outdoor education organization, is offering a rare chance for a nighttime beach walk during an extreme low tide this winter.

Most people go tide-pooling by day, in the warmth of summer, as the waters of the Salish Sea expose the shallow intertidal zone and its oddly adapted creatures. But in winter, those low tides arrive in the evening, sometimes close to midnight, and often when city and county beach parks are closed.

Tide-pool exploration in the dark of night is an otherworldly experience, said Wild Whatcom’s Holly Roger, who will be part of a team of naturalist guides that include Casey Pruett from the Marine Life Center and Doug Stark from Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee. Their guided tour is 10-11:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at Marine Park in Fairhaven, 100 Harris Ave.

Cost is $12 for ages 18 and older, $8 for ages 4-17, and free for those 3 and younger. Babies worn in carriers are welcome. Space is limited and often fills quickly. To register, go to wildwhatcom.org, email info@wildwhatcom, or call 360-389-3414.

There will be a minus 1-foot, 9-inch ebb tide at 11:42 p.m., with the added bonus of a full moon if skies are clear.

Roger enjoys Marine Park at night because “it’s safe and flat,” and less treacherous than a rocky shore.

She suggests wearing a high-powered headlamp to leave your hands free for turning over rocks and examining tiny creatures. Backup lighting such as a flashlight or extra batteries are helpful.

Dress warmly and in layers, and remember that it can be colder at the waterfront. Rubber boots and warm socks are recommended. It’s handy to stash hot drinks, along with dry socks, shoes and gloves in your car for afterward. Also bring a plastic bag for wet items.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty