Pacific Pup: The California Coast According to Annette


Hangin’ by the Pool

I know for a fact that in my lifetime, I will absolutely never grow tired of exploring the tide pools scattered along California’s dramatic and rocky shoreline. No matter how many times I’ve been mesmerized, there is always something new I haven’t seen in past adventures, something even more enchanting than the time before. Literally right under my nose lies an extremely complex ecosystem–a home or nursery to thousands of coastal animals. The shoreline is a “border between two worlds, a fluid boundary where the water advances and retreats with the rhythm of the tides,” as the Monterey Bay Aquarium so eloquently describes it. Although I have visited the California tide pools since I was a young child, I continue to find exciting life-forms that strike in me a sense of awe and wonder.
Sea slugs, or nudibranchs, are endlessly fascinating to me. Lacking any kind of shell or protective armor, they seem so vulnerable to be living in such turbulent conditions. Yet there are over one hundred and thirty species of sea slugs on the Pacific Coast alone. Some camouflage gracefully into their environment, others use nearly fluorescent coloring to say “I taste bad!” and some can even shoot purple ink to ward off predators. To my great astonishment, most sea slugs are carnivores, feeding on sponges and barnacles. They must sport the most adorable tiny jaws known amongst marine carnivores.
Recently, I have been introduced to the lively and dangerous sport of poke-pole fishing. Poke-pole fishing is a California tradition in which adventurous people use bait attached to long poles to hunt for fish that hide deep within the crevices of tide pools. The prized catch is the Monkey-faced Eel, which is a delightfully bizarre fish with a characteristically eel-like body. Not exactly a charmer, the Monkey-faced Eel is an elusive and mysterious creature that seeks protection in rocky tide pools. While fishing in designated areas is a legal activity, it is important to keep in mind the sensitivity of tidal ecosystems, not to mention the dangers of fast-rising tides, which can be deadly.
Other animals that I take delight in spotting at tide pools are hermit crabs (they’re everywhere!), sea snails, giant green anemones, bat stars, purple sea urchins, and occasionally different types of jellies (just to name a few…). Tide pools are a source of continual awe and inspiration for me, and so is art inspired by marine life. Check out this vibrant and colorful work of art by Leslie Hengen. Next time you are exploring tide pools, keep your eyes open and get ready to be amazed at what you can find!
See you at the beach!
Annette Filice
(Scientific Illustrator Intern)

Sketch Notes:
Hangin’ by the pool…
Bat Star, Ochre Starfish, Acorn Barnacle, Aggregating Anemone, Giant Green Anemone, Opalescent Nudibranch, Monkey-faced Eel, Purple Sea Urchin


  1. says

    Hanginbythepool.. Super 🙂

  2. says

    Hanginbythepool.. Bang-up 🙂

  3. says

    Hanginbythepool.. Smashing 🙂

  4. says

    Hanginbythepool.. Awesome 🙂