This summer, explorers need not look far. Puget Sound beaches are experiencing extreme tides, which reveal sea creatures that are less visible at other times of the year.
“It's not just the tide goes out. It goes out two feet, three feet, three-and-a-half feet, and animals that wouldn't ordinarily see the light of day are now visible,” said An Tootill, a volunteer with the Beach Naturalists.
Beachgoers combed the shallow waters and turned over rocks to look for marine life including Christmas anemones, starfish, giant clams, geoduck, sea cucumber, crabs, among others.
The program is a part of the Seattle Aquarium, and volunteers in red hats hit the beaches during low tides to educate beachgoers.
“Oh no, they’re not edible,” Tootill told one man. “... you’re not supposed to take things off the beach. It’s a nature preserve.”
Beach Naturalists say 35 factors are influencing the tides at this time of year, and the super-low tides occur because of the alignment of the sun, moon, and earth.
Program lead Dani Kendall says she has noticed healthier sea stars this year. In the past couple of years, 75 percent of the sea stars died from sea star wasting virus.
“It would sort of look like it's melting. You may see a ray or arm that's no longer attached to the central disk,” Kendall said.
She says seeing juveniles this season may be a sign of a comeback.
The next super-low tide occurs at the end of June. Tootill recommends Lincoln Park to see red octopus spawning.
Click here for a full listing of parks and super-low tides.