On Puget Sound, this month's low tides are good news for tidepoolers

Life abounds in the nooks and crannies beyond the promontoryof West Seattle's Alki Beach. Hermit crabs skulk, chitons cling torocks, and pastel-colored sea anemones jiggle in the currents likeJell-O.

Late spring brings some of the lowest tides of the year toWashington's coastal towns, making it a great time to check outlocal tidepools and the critters that live in them. Alki is perhapsthe best bet on Puget Sound; on the Pacific Coast, Olympic NationalPark's Shi Shi (pronounced shy-shy) Beach is well worth the drive and the 2 1/2-milehike it takes to get there. Among Shi Shi's many draws: sea starsthat often measure more than 1 foot from tip to tip.

Remember, look but don't touch. And if you can't find thatelusive sea cucumber or anemone the first time, just wait ―the next low tide is never more than 12 hours away.

INFO: Access AlkiBeach (free) via a sidewalk through Constellation Park along BeachDr. S.W.; access Shi Shi Beach via the Makah-owned Shi Shi trail off BayView Ave. (State 112) in Neah Bay. Permit required for Shi Shi ($7), available at Washburn's General Store on Bay View (360/645-2211). No dogs allowed at either beach. Tide chartsare available at most local sporting goods stores.

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