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Bay Area Animal
Field Trip Review

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Homeschool Review

By The Cashmore Family

Hello! We went to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve today.
What a place!

We saw so many things that I doubt we can remember them all, but here are a few of the things we saw:

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Jellyfish
  • We saw a starfish! Some of us also touched it, and it felt leathery; that might be why it's called the Leather Starfish.
  • We also saw three jellyfish. They were a clear whitish color, almost like milk scum. One of them looked like it was upside-down, and we could see a triangular object in the center which might have been its mouth. Of course we didn't touch it!
  • We saw rocks with round holes that were probably made by small sea snails.
  • We saw the "moss" that gave Moss Beach its name, actually it's Brillo Moss and it's probably not a moss at all, but some other kind of creature.
  • We saw plants that weren't plants (they have something called a holdfast which we need to learn more about later; the dead ones we saw might have harbored smaller creatures but we'll have to investigate that next time if we remember to bring along a magnifying glass...)
  • We saw hermit crabs by the thousands. We also saw small fish, sea snails, anemones (they feel sticky when you touch them). There might have been another crab out there but we didn't get a good look at it.
  • We actually saw some coral that was encrusted onto the surface of a rock; it was a beautiful textured pinkish color.
  • We saw small barnacles and limpets, some broken abalone shells... and some legs that looked like they had been broken off of huge crabs recently.
  • And way out on the rocks we saw a large number of seagulls and harbor seals. Next time we want to bring binoculars so we can get a better look.

There were a number of varieties of seaweed and algae. We plan to learn more about those.

There was mention of some kind of sea slug; we didn't see those.

We could see the trees with branches all growing parallel to the direction of the wind, which was rather neat, and we saw broken shells where the American Indians (Ohlone) might have prepared their food long ago.

The shells on the beach were of so many different varieties and colors, again that's another area we'll want to research more.

We saw a giant black bird which might have been a cormorant, and also up on the higher level (above the beach) we saw a bird with a black head which might have been a finch. Also saw a few bumblebees.

Our friend saw a fiddler crab, and we also saw some kind of a beach cockroach. Oh my goodness! It looked like a gigantic pillbug with long legs and a soft body.

What a day! The weather was perfect, the tide was out, and we had a blast! Can't wait for our next trip!

We would like to add that the ecosystem is highly fragile, and the quantity of living organisms has been diminishing significantly year by year. Visitors will want to be very careful to put any critters back precisely where they were found, disturb as few as possible, watch where people are stepping, etc. It's very hard to avoid stepping on live organisms, since almost everything you step on is alive except for the occasional bare spot on a rock. The best recommendation is to pick one spot and then stay there and see how much you can observe, rather than stomping all around. Collecting animals, shells, plants, rocks, etc. is prohibited.

Many thanks to the Cashmore Family!