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Cornwall 08
Photos Day Four

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear and the day looked like the weather was going to be promising so that we could get some rock pooling in later that day. After doing so much traveling the past few days I wanted to spend a day relaxing in the comfort of our new apartment and enjoy the beach for at least one day.  We agreed that we wouldn't use the car at all for one full day.  One of the first things that we tried to do was figure out when the tide would be heading out so that we could get as much rock pooling time in as possible.  We figured that the tide was going to be out in the early afternoon.  This gave us some time to kill in the morning. 

After figuring out the basic tide schedule I decided it was time to cook my traditional Sunday morning brunch, homemade pancakes.  One of the main advantages of early spring in Canada is that the maple sap runs and it's easy to get some nice fresh maple syrup so I brought a good supply with me.  Meanwhile Andy decided to use his traditional pancake topping of lemon juice and sugar.  It was nice to sit down together and enjoy a simple relaxing home cooked breakfast.

After breakfast we started gathering together some of the gear that we would need for our first trip down to the beach.  We decided that this was going to be a basic scouting trip to see what kind of fish we could find and start taking some initial water test results.  Thankfully the cottage was close to the beach so we would be able to simply run up and grab something if we forgot it. 

Finally it was time to go down to the beach as the tide would be out far enough for us to start exploring the upper rock pools to see what we could find. One of the things we really weren't prepared for was the amount of seaweed that was washed up on the beach.  Apparently the week before we went down there was a huge storm that created a lot of havoc on the beach.   The last time we went there was barely any seaweed around at all.  However this time the entire slipway that we normally used was covered with the stuff.  To make matters worse, there was a wall of seaweed about 2 feet thick right at the top of the slipway that we had to climb over before getting to the thinner layers.  After that experience it's much easier to understand why it was called a slip-way! Unfortunately once we made it to the bottom of the slipway we still had a lot of seaweed to contend with, but it seemed to taper out by the time we got to our usual seating area at the bottom of the middle slipway. 

Lucky for us the weather seemed to be holding and the day was turning nice and warm so we dropped some of our gear off and then started to try and find some fish.  We went to a little stream area with a lot of bigger rocks in that was usually an easy place to find fish and started flipping the rocks over.  Much to our dismay we didn't find any fish whatsoever.  The only thing we found was a lot of amphipods under the rocks which we never saw during our previous visit. While this result was a little disappointing we figured that we would just move on a little ways and find more fish in some of the deeper pools or even in amongst the bladder wrack that was just starting to be uncovered as the tide continued to move out.

In the meanwhile we decided to start doing some basic water tests to see what type of changes fish that lived at the edges of the sea cope with on a daily basis.  Using a refractometer we carefully tested the salinity in various rock pools, we also measured the temperature in each of the pools and made notes of the different creatures we found living in the pools.  As the tide continued to go out we were able to search for fish further field.  Much to our disappointment we weren't able to find very many fish, even in the deeper pools and were beginning to get worried about the lack of fish.  We weren't even able to find any shannies on this first trip which was completely amazing as in the past we couldn't go more then one or two rock pools without catching one or two. 

After a lot of searching, I finally found a couple of sand gobies hidden in the bladder wrack.  This was a welcome sight as it meant that our trip wasn't going to be a complete loss for photos.  We quickly found a small rock pool to put the fish into so that we could start taking some photos of the fish.  After a while I went looking for more fish while Andy continued photographing the fish and getting a couple more water test results.  Eventually I found bullrout as well and brought the prize back so we could get some good photos of it as well.  Even though we didn't find many fish during that first trip down to the beach, we did find a lot of different types of crabs.  It seemed that there were crabs in every rock pool. 

While we were a little disappointed with the lack of fish we saw down at the beach, we did enjoy the nice weather and just sitting together chatting about our plans for the next couple of weeks.  We also speculated on why we weren't able to find many fish in the rock pools.  We couldn't decide if the lack of fish was due to the time of the year or if the bad storms from the previous week drove the fish deeper into to the sea for a bit of extra shelter.  In either case, we hoped that we would have much better luck finding more fish later on in the week and more importantly that the a lot of the dead seaweed that was choking the shoreline would get washed out to sea or move further on down the beach so that it wouldn't stink nearly as bad while rock pooling!  I really don't understand how people can enjoy that "fresh ocean breeze" I hear so much about.

While we were talking together, we were also watching for other life around us.  While it may be shocking to some people, both Andy and I are interested in other things besides fish as well.  We were both very interested in the different kinds of birds found in the area.  I found out that while  I was  looking around for some fish, Andy saw a Pied Wagtail that he was really excited about because as he was taking the photos the bird was coming closer to him all the time.  It allowed him to get a couple great photos of this tiny interesting bird.  Of course I was a little jealous because I didn't get to see the bird so I was keeping my eyes open for any other interesting birdlife.  Much to our surprise, a short while later we spotted a bat flying around the slipway during broad daylight. While it was fairly common to see Pipistrelle bats in the area, it isn't common to see them around in the middle of a nice bright and sunny day.  We figured that it must have been grabbing an easy meal out of all the bugs found in and around the rotting seaweed at the time.  I attempted to take a photo of it but unfortunately this proved to be extremely difficult.

Sometime during our talking and rock pooling the tide had turned and we decided that it was nearly time to head back to the cottage.  However we still needed to do the simple tests on full sea water.  So I grabbed the thermometer and a pipette to get a water sample to test with the refractometer and headed out as far out on the rocks as I could to ensure that I got a sample of full seawater. I carefully made my way out to the edge of the rocks and carefully placed the thermometer in our large net which would allow me to put the thermometer out as far as possible without having to worry about the thermometer banging against the rocks by the waves or anything like that.  I noticed that the waves were still fairly large so I would need to be careful to watch how quickly the tide was coming in so that I wouldn't get trapped without a way back to the safety of land.  While I was making this assessment, I reached out with the net to place the thermometer in the water when suddenly a big rouge wave came along and nearly knocked me off the rock I was standing on due to my surprise at being splashed.  The next thing I noticed was that the glass thermometer was no longer in the net where it should have been!  I spent the next couple minutes searching for any hint of the thermometer but alas spotting a glass thermometer with a white suction cup on the end in amongst crashing waves, dark rocks and a rapidly incoming tide was a hopeless endeavor!  Finally I decided that it wouldn't be safe to stay out any longer and that it was time to get a water sample so we could at least get the salinity reading we wanted.

On my way back to where Andy was sitting I had visions of the last item I lost in the sea and the only thing I could think of is was "thank goodness thermometers aren't nearly as expensive or important as car keys!"  When I finally made my way safely back to Andy, I informed him of the unexpected problem with our plan on taking the temperature of the ocean, but at least I had a better idea of it's temperament.  We would simply have to go back to the LFS and pick up a few more thermometers just to be on the safe side.

Shortly after that we decided it was time to head back to the cottage and have our supper.  While we didn't get everything we wanted to get, I think we still had a nice enjoyable quiet day.

   
 
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