August 16, 2012 by elaubach
A golden green and maroon carpet hides miniature treasures along the western coast of Bolinas. There lies the largest shale reef on the Pacific coast in North America. Duxbury Reef extends about 1,000 feet into the ocean, up to a depth of thirteen feet. Walking among sea anemones, crabs and wavy sea grass at low tide you will find an exceptional tidal ecosystem.
From the parking lot, walk south towards Salisbury Point, where the rock formations look otherworldly as they jaggedly jet out of the water. Pale pink and muddy red coral slowly spread over the shale and even the Dungeness crabs that scurry through it. The crabs are like the squirrels of this underwater forest, foraging seaweed at every turn.
If you look very closely, a flicker of neon might catch your eye. Spotting a nudibranch is like playing “I Spy.” These tiny snail-like creatures glow pearlescent in the dawn’s early light with neon-tipped hairs.
The starfish, purple sea urchins and many other sea creatures hold tight while the waves begin to crash higher and higher. Make sure to be aware of the rising tide so that you don’t become isolated on an island and have to resort to trudging through the water, although that can be fun too.
Visit NOAA’s tide prediction site so that you time your trip to Duxbury at low tide. Minus tides, during the mornings before and after a new moon, are best.