Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Essential Eelgrass

This morning we visited the Breazeale-Padilla Interpretive Center, right next to where we are staying at Bay View State Park in tiny Bay View, WA on the Padilla Bay.  The interpretive center explains the importance of Padilla Bay, an estuary (where freshwater from rivers mix with salt water of oceans) of the Puget Sound.  The Braezeale Interpretive Center is on a 64- acre former farm donated by the Braezeale family, who had lived there since 1897.  When the oldest child, Edna, retired from her career as a Seattle school teacher in 1957, plans were under way to develop the nearby mudflats of the bay into an industrial area.  Edna spearheaded a successful fight to preserve the area, and later donated the family farm where she grew up (and lived after her retirement) to the state.
Afterwards, we drove into Anacortes, WA, to refill some prescriptions and get groceries.  We also had lunch and walked around the town, which according to local history was named by an early settler who thought Anacortes sounded like the Spanish version of Annie Curtis, the name of his wife.

Bev looks an an eel grass exhibit filled with grass, water and fish.  Padilla Bay is known for its large seagrass meadows that are important feeding areas for a small sea goose called a brant, and is a nursery area for young fish and crabs. 
The Padilla Bay is an estuary where the Skagit River dumps into the Puget Sound. The bay is very shallow; at low tide, the eight mile by three mile bay is nearly empty and at high tide it's flooded.  It repeats its full bay/nearly empty bay cycle roughly every 24 hours. Above, Jim stands on a tree stump at the “beach” on Padilla Bay just across the road from the Breazeale Interpretive Center at about 11 a.m. today.  In the photo immediately below, he’s in about the same spot at 3:30 p.m. today.
An interesting rain gutter down spout we saw in Anacortes.
In the bay off Anacortes we saw Samish Indians practicing their paddling skills.  Members of what's called the "Samish Canoe Family" take their canoes to local festivals and events and also participate in races. The Samish have been living in what is now northwest Washington since “time immemorial.” 
Over 125 (at last count) murals are painted on wooden cutouts attached to downtown Anacortes buildings.  They been created since 1984 by Bill Mitchell, described in a visitors’ guide as a “local artist, historian and colorful character” and feature local people -- mostly past, some present.  We came across the one above as we turned a corner and Cooper went nuts.  Here Jim tries to show Cooper that the man with the fish is OK. 

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