Point Lobos is a state park on Monterey Bay, and one of my favorite spots on California’s Central Coast. I’ve been there many times, most recently this past fall.
It is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest marine sanctuary in the United States.
Monterey Bay’s underwater canyons provide cold, nutrient-rich waters that attract an abundant diversity of marine plants, invertebrates, and mammals. Everything from snails to whales cruise by.
Kelp forests, one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on earth, are abundant here. They offer food and protection to marine wildlife.
With tectonic plates nearby, the granite and sedimentary cliffs and rocks at Point Lobos have evolved for over 80 million years, creating a shoreline mosaic of crevasses and holes perfect for collecting intertidal waters and associated wildlife.
Hiking, birding, photography, kayaking and scuba diving rank high on the list of activities. But it’s also fun to explore the rocks and tidepools, discovering the sea creatures that make their home here. Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.
Tidepooling is like a seaside safari — so much to see and learn, and never a dull moment.
With changing tides and constant wave action, water continually whooshing in and out, there is something different happening every minute of the day.
My binoculars are with me wherever I go, and they come in handy at the tidepools. Here are a few close-ups.
Sea urchins and anemones, crabs and starfish, sea palms, algae and other seaweed hang on tenaciously, riding out the pounding surf.
Crabs scuttle, sea birds forage, and marine mammals languish.
Every tide pool is a different community, a different story. This whole rocky plateau is a world of tidepools.
Point Lobos has a long history of attracting humans in their various endeavors: Ohlone natives, abalone hunters, Spanish explorers, whalers and commercial fishermen to name a few. For a time it was a designated WWII defense site; then it was slated to be a residential housing development (which was nixed). Edward Weston photographed here, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and over 45 other movies were filmed here. It’s not far from Big Sur.
The wild beauty and magnificence of Point Lobos still calls. And fortunately these waters are protected now–harbor seals and sea otters can live in peace. Humans can explore and picnic and revel in the briny world.
Twice a day every day, the water recedes and returns, in its infinite earthly rhythms.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.