Day 6

Last day. We went out during the high tide to try and count how much leaf litter washes into the sea. We did this in two ways. First we placed nets over the mouth of a few streams and captured all the leaves floating in the stream for a number of hours. These streams are very strange. They have very small watersheds and have almost no change in flow during rainy days or seasons. The dense vegetation means most of the leaves that fall into the stream stay in the stream. Not many get into the sea. But there is another source. We found one Alder tree growing on the beach with the branches stretching over the sand and a halo of leaves around it. This beach was covered in leaves so we threw quadrats onto the sand and collected the leaves within them. Leaves could also be blown into the sea. We don’t have a way to measure that yet. Maybe later.

The afternoon brought our last trip out with the final marine leaf packs. We went to the south cove of Cape Arago, the first place that really met the tide pools. It’s a trove of marine creatures. A sheltered rocky cove allows abundant creatures feasting on the alga that covers the rocks. We quickly assembled the final packs and placed them around the kelp zone. Business complete we turned our attentions to the animals around us. Within the sheltered bay they were mostly anemones and hermit crabs, snails and limpets, sculpins and sea stars. Round the point and you see the full expanse of the sea, waves crashing on the offshore rocks which protect seals and sea lions. The sun was just setting, highlighting the spray of a restless sea.

We climbed back up to the car with equipment in hand and rather tired. Returning to the institute we cleaned the lab, the dorms, and ate the best of the food. Tomorrow, we begin the long drive back, 1000 miles to go.

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