Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attack of the Mutant Starfish

A little marine bird told me that Santa Barbara beaches — and presumably a few other ones that do what the moon says, I guess — would have an exceptionally low tide on Saturday afternoon, so we trekked out to see what typically can’t be seen. I’m glad I went, even if I didn’t see the octopus a fellow beachcomber claimed to have spotted. (“Where did you see it?” I asked. He motioned vaguely up the beach. “In a tide pool,” he offered, as if one temporary body of water were somehow distinguishable from another.)

Some photos:

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We saw row after row of undersea rocks, whose jagged tops lends them the appearance of teeth.

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And then, of course, there were the starfish. The pictures don’t convey much of sense of scale, but they were, in general, about as big as two of my hands, side by side. (And I’d like to think that I have pretty average 26-year-old man hands, if that’s any help.) The bigger ones had arms as wide as my four fingers pressed together. In short, movie monster aliens could learn a thing or two from these freaks. Good to know that they’re under your feet whenever you wade just a few yards into the ocean, waiting for just the right moment to stomach-sucker onto you and digest you feet-first.

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Outings like these usually benefit from attention to detail, which I magically lack the moment I pick up a camera. Spencer, however, managed to point out something worth noticing — something even more spectacular than the starfish invaders: mollusks, which you might normally look right past as if they were rocks or something but which were appreciably exhibiting the fact that they were, in fact, alive and mobile.

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They may not move too quickly, and, judging by their sand tracks, they don’t appear to be headed anywhere in particular, but hey — neither do the sailing stones. And people can’t stop talking about them.

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See? Here he is, noticing stuff.

Finally, the Bacara itself warranted just one photo, as evidence of some staffer’s strange decision that draping a sky-and-clouds sheet over a building somehow made it less unsightly.

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The phrase “Bacara, you’re not fooling anyone,” was a true this weekend as it’s ever been.

I suppose this version of the events isn’t all that exciting, what with the unfulfilled potential to see the wonders of the sea from dry land. Here’s a more exciting — but entirely false — version: We met the octopus king and he offered us treasure. We had to decline, however, because we could only get it if we traveled to his undersea kingdom of sensual delights and, by that point, we were in a hurry to get home.

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