On a recent Outdoor Afro trip to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, nature once again stole the show. On a little rocky edge of our immense ocean life has chosen to stand its ground, holding on by employing tubed feet, serrated claws, sucker disc and mucus threads which dry like cement. It huddles in cracks and crevices, under stone, and even shallow depressions on the lee side of rock provides just enough protection against powerful tidal waves to give an organism a narrow margin of success.
And when the tide finally is in, life has to be ready to take full advantage of our favorite liquid, unfurling ‘arms, legs’, tongues and tentacles, to reach out and catch hold of any edible plankton or particles that float by on the current.
This period of time when the tide is in and the waves are flying overhead is in a sense, an easier time. Water is available and the sun and wind are not beating down threatening to dry and fry these water-loving organisms. But they are never completely safe. A fast moving fish can come up and pluck a inattentive limpet off the rock.
A hungry seal is keen to dine on open clams and mussels while they, in turn, feed on our precious ocean soup. And starfish are on the move eating just about anything they can grab in their slow-motion pursuit. When we look into tide pools we can imagine beautiful aquariums of plants and animals with their amazing colors, shapes and patterns.
But these are simply the crowning after-effects of organisms that have adapted to the extreme conditions of the oceans edge.
They’ve conditioned themselves to hunker down when times are tough, the tide is out and the sun and wind threaten to wick every ounce of water from the body. And when times are good, the tide is in and food is available; these organisms have adapted to moving forward, reaching out and feeding judiciously. Taking advantage of the bounty while making sure they are not on the menu themselves. In our beautiful tide pools, these are truly adaptations for success.