Warning! Things get weird on the Pacific Rim! 

So it’s your first time in Tofino, heck, it’s your first time on the west coast. What do you do?
Head straight to the beach and be prepared to come across a few unusual things!

How weird, you ask?

We have compiled a list of the 5 most bizarre things we’ve seen on the beaches of and around Tofino. 

1.  Sea Foam

  What appears to be an inviting, giant, natural bubble bath is actually a foul-smelling froth of dissolving plants and animals. It’s a natural occurrence along wavy shorelines where water vigorously mixes with air. As the expired flora and fauna break down, they release organic compounds. Bubble masses are formed when these compounds are agitated by seawater.
You may be tempted to walk through the cloudy phenomenon but be warned, you will have fishy-smelling boots for the remainder of the hike.


2.  Gooseneck Barnacles

  You’ve probably heard of barnacles, those cute little white calcified cones cemented to the rocks along the coast.  These tiny crustaceans are suspension feeders, relying on their little feathery feet (cirri) to capture plankton. A more rare sighting would be of their relative, the goose barnacle, washed up on shore with flotsam or driftwood. They differ in that the goose barnacle relies on the ocean motion for feeding, opposed to the movement of their cirri. They are found closer to the waters edge, feasting among the crashing waves of the intertidal zone. They are considered an expensive delicacy in many parts of the world and you may even see them on local menus!

3.  Mermaids Purse (Chondrichthyes)

  They don’t look, feel or smell like a fashionable accessory. These cases don’t carry credit cards and chap stick, they hold skate and shark eggs instead. Commonly found dried, empty and stranded in the high tide line amongst the seaweed. Feeling similar to a fingernail, the pouch is made up of collagen and keratin. The eggs within grow into miniature versions of their parents before hatching, a process that may take weeks to years, depending on the species.
What did the mermaid keep in her purse?             ... her shellular phone!


4.  By-the-Wind-Sailor (Velella velella)

   These little guys end up on our shores by accident. At the mercy of the wind, storms tend to strand the whole herd up on shore. You may see waves lapping at a thick blue smear down the length of the beach, thousands of tiny little sails covered in sand. Upon inspection, you may be fooled into thinking this carnivorous creature is an individual. In fact, each sailor is a colony of hydroids related to Portuguese man-of-war. They use a toxin benign to humans to feed on plankton. That said, I wouldn’t recommend petting the pretty blue hydrozoans then sticking your finger in your eye.


5.  False Oil Spill

  You’re strolling down the beach, gazing at the horizon when you look down to find your cute little white kicks are soiled with a reddish brown sludge. This phenomenon can certainly cause alarm. Did you stumble across an environmental disaster of epic proportions? Maybe… You poke the oily sheen with a stick and it doesn’t flow back together. Phew! This means that it’s likely a natural occurrence. 

Possible causes:

  1. As they grow and reproduce, iron-sourcing bacteria create a slime that can create an oil effect.
  2. It may also be caused by groundwater seeping to the surface and dropping iron as it meets the air or
  3. It is an indication of decomposing organic material. Either way, you’ll probably want to walk around next time.


There is so much to explore in and around Tofino. 
Here are ways to discover weird and wonderful things of your own:

  1. Walk, skip, or cartwheel along the sandy shores of our best local beaches! 
  2. Take the ultimate photography excursion with our marine adventure experts!
  3. Choose your own adventure from our list of best hiking trails!



Ref:

http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/whats-in-the-water

http://priede.bf.lu.lv/grozs/HidroBiologjijas/FieldGuideAquaticPhenomena.pdf

http://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/efauna/BarnaclesofBritishColumbia.html

http://marinelife.about.com/od/Sharks/fl/What-Is-a-Mermaids-Purse.htm

http://www.livescience.com/47159-sailing-sea-creatures-wash-ashore.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_foam



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