I Googled tidepools Ecuador and all that came up were a couple of pictures of reflections in tidepools and then pictures of my own children, cousin and aunt taken by my own mother when she visited a few years ago! I guess tidepooling hasn't really taken off as a massive tourist activity in Ecuador quite yet.
I hope this blog post contributes to changing that! I have taken these 20 pictures over the past year on a little beach called Chulluyupe, in the province of Santa Elena, Ecuador. I have no idea what most of these animals are called, or even what some of them are, so any help would be be greatly appreciated!
Getting pictures of the animals that live in tidepools has its challenges. For starters, they are almost all under water, so the reflection gets in the way as does any water movement. I have learned that I have to take an umbrella along to eliminate the sun's reflection in the water to get the right exposure for the pictures. The other challenge is that they are so small that you have to get within a couple of inches, and use macro, to get a good picture. This is not always possible because of the depth of the pools and the formation of the rocks. You have to be a contortionist to get close enough. And don't get the lens wet!
Tidepooling opens one's eyes to worlds unseen. The animals that live in these pools of water have become accustomed to 12 hours of violent movement and 12 hours of relative calm, although it is very difficult to imagine how such delicate animals can live through high tide. I imagine that they all have their little caves where they hide until they can see the sun again. So much diversity exists that it is clear they have evolved into this environment over hundreds or thousands of years. A case in point is the crab that finds places where the waves crash against the rocks and stands right in the most dangerous place. It looks like they will be swept away, but they come out victorious over the waves every time.
This starfish is amazing. The legs don't move at all, but the entire animal creeps along by moving the small filaments. The following picture shows another type of starfish, living alongside urchins.
The underside of this animal is pink and slimy, like a slug. It curls up into a ball in a most amazing way, becoming perfectly spherical.
The next two pictures are the best shots I could get of this kind of crab. It hides when you approach, but its caves are not very deep so I could get the second shot much to his chagrin.
The following picture shows an octopus that likes to hide among the intertidal rocks. It can grow quite big as you can see. This speciman fetches approximately $5 in local markets. This octopus hunter goes through this area every day and catches 4 or 5 a day, but most are much smaller than this one.
This shows the hundreds of hermit crabs that climb all over the seaweed, each with its own shell perfectly suited to its activities and needs.