The Amazing Revelations of Winter Tides
Topanga State Beach. Completely hidden much of the year, this amazing intertidal world is only fully revealed during the lowest tides of the year. Photos by Suzanne Guldimann
Leo Carrillo’s usually pristine tide pools were filled with mud from the first post-fire rains when the Messenger Mountain News visited in January. The creek deposited vast amounts of silt, ash, rocks, and even trees. Some of that material will be cleared out during February’s high tides.
American oystercatchers are more common south of Baja, but this one turned up in the tide pools at Topanga State Beach. Winter often brings unusual migrant species to the coast, as well as seasonal residents that may travel from as far away as the Arctic circle to winter here.
The snowy plover is another endangered species that makes its home on local beaches. This tiny bird has returned to his historic breeding grounds at the Malibu Lagoon and, with the help of human guardians to patrol and protect, has begun nesting on the beach again. The sand where this bird is standing is littered with char from the Woolsey Fire, but that may be more a boon than a liability for this little bird, which hunts kelp flies and other invertebrates among the tidal wrack on the beach.