Life on the rocks

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

Life abounds in the nooks and crannies beyond the promontory of West Seattle's Alki Beach. Hermit crabs skulk, chitons cling to rocks, and pastel-colored sea anemones jiggle in the currents like Jell-O.

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

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

INFO: Access Alki Beach (free) via a sidewalk through Constellation Park along Beach Dr. S.W.; access Shi Shi Beach via the Makah-owned Shi Shi trail off Bay View 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 charts are available at most local sporting goods stores.