I made it down to Abalone Cove on Sunday afternoon as planned. It was raining at my house when I had lunch but it finally stopped long enough to give me hope for the rest of afternoon. It turned out to be a beautiful day down at the cove. No rain and plenty of sunshine. The tide was out to -1.7 feet at 2.46 p.m. After trying to make up my mind how warmly to dress, I finally arrived at 2 and stayed until the sun set after 5 p.m. Grace (gracefully gamboling over the rocks in the photo) and her family were already there when I arrived as were many other people. I took over 165 photos which you can view at my Picasa Web Albums site. I have added captions to many of the photos to aid in identifying the plants and marine life.
However, the afternoon was almost spoiled right away when I came upon a family of poachers. They were foreign (Chinese) and spoke no English but they certainly knew what they were doing, digging octopi out from their hiding places under the rocks with a hook. They were dressed as fishermen with heavy boots and waterproof pants. Grace was furious and tried to tell them that taking anything out of the park was forbidden, but they just shrugged her off. We saw them put at least one octopus and one Brittle Star in their cooler. I felt slightly relieved when Grace called the number given on the map they hand out at the gate and reported them. Someone else had already reported them and Grace was told that they planned to confront them as they left. My concern was that there are several ways to get down to the tidepools, so how could they be sure these people would leave by the gate?
My friend Yvetta has sent me further information on the subject which I will pass on to you so you will be informed. A fishing license does not give someone the right to take octopi from the Preserve. Abalone Cove State Marine Park is a Marine Protected Area. The state Fish & Game regulations clearly state that all marine aquatic plants and all invertebrates including worms, squids, octopi, most shellfish, sea urchins, sea stars, and sea cucumbers, are prohibited for recreational take. If you should see something like this happening in the future, it is recommended that you not confront the person or persons. Instead, contact the California Fish & Game or have the person at the gatehouse do it. The numbers to call are (858) 467-4201 (South Coast Region) or (831) 649-2870 (Marine Region). I'm planning to add these numbers to my cell phone.
After Grace left, I climbed all the way out to the point which is where I took the photo at the top. You can see the opening to the cave that I mentioned earlier. No one was going across the gorge today, however. The waves were fiercely crashing into the surrounding rocks.
Many thanks to Yvetta for all the information she sent me as well as the help with identifying species.