Life in the Splash Zone

April 4, 2019

Monterey, California


Photographs are deceptive freeze frames of what is a literal ocean of motion, but the surging bubbles of the intertidal help illustrate just how much movement there is in the water.


Even on a calm day, swells sweep the rocks with enough force to churn up a flurry of swallowed air and send it swirling around the local inhabitants. I was clumsily battered against the rocks in the turmoil, tearing my wetsuit and scraping the dome and its protective port shade, and yet this ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) and surrounding invertebrates didn't so much as twitch in the motion.


The life that makes a living at this line of land and sea must be tough to withstand the daily beating, holding out against relentless rushes of cold brine that test even the clingiest of clingers.


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