Low Tide Celebration to coincide with Fourth of July

As Quartermaster Harbor’s marine recovery area continues to put the health of Puget Sound in the spotlight, local naturalist are gearing up for an annual event they hope will give visitors a deeper appreciation for what lives beneath the water.

This year the Low Tide Celebration, put on by the volunteer Vashon Beach Naturalists during one of the lowest tides of the summer, will take place on Wednesday, July 4. It’s the first time the event has been on either a weekday or on the Fourth of July.

Last year the event, which took place under sunny skies on Fourth of July weekend, drew nearly 1,000 people from on and off the Island. This year the beach naturalists are prepared for a similar crowd, said organizer Rayna Holtz, though attendance is largely weather dependent.

“It’s such an extensive beach, it can hold that many people without seeming crowded,” she said.

For six years, the Low Tide Celebration has been held at Point Robinson, where organizers say beach-goers can explore two dramatically different shoreline habitats. The sandy point holds large tide pools where colorful sea stars, anemones and tube worms make their homes, while at the cobble beach to the north, hermit crabs hide under rocks, moon snails peek above the surface and clams squirt water into the air.

Special signs will mark the locations of interesting animals; the Vashon Beach Naturalists will be on hand to identify creatures, and Junior Beach Naturalists from the Homestead School will lead an activity for kids.

Holtz said last year many who attended went out of their way to thank the volunteer naturalists who spend the day on the beach locating sea animals, answering questions and telling visitors interesting facts about their lives.

“Many people had been on beaches before, but they hadn’t been aware of how much lives here in very inconspicuous places,” Holtz said.

The lighthouse will again be open for tours, and in what has become a well-loved tradition at the celebration, local Native Americans will row the Blue Heron, a traditional Salish canoe, across Puget Sound from Federal Way to Point Robinson, likely sometime before noon.

Dana Schuerholz, a Homestead School teacher who has been involved in the Low Tide Celebration, called the event a grassroots production put on by people who hope to impart a greater care for Puget Sound.

“They really believe that the more other people have an opportunity to really understand more about (shoreline ecology), they’ll be more successful in preserving the environment in different ways,” she said.

Holtz agreed, saying volunteers call the event a celebration, rather than a festival, for a reason.

“A festival is more just to go and have good time, kick back and be self-satisfied,” she said. “This is a celebration to honor and call attention to and learn about something else.”


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