You have to surprise a starfish, or it will latch on and not let go. This is the critter counting station set up at Seahurst Park as part of a conservation effort to tear down the northern section of the seawall. Volunteers came out to round up sea-life at low tide to relocate them from the construction to begin in September.
SLIDESHOW: At Seahurst Beach, volunteers get their hands in the sand where the critters live
By Cassie Campbell
It was a busy morning along the north shore of Seahurst Beach park where naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium and other volunteers combed the beach trying to find various sea creatures that need to be relocated.
Next month, the north wall will be torn down. Without help, the creatures that live here could be killed during the construction process.
According to the Seattle Aquarium "Beach Naturalists are local citizens who care about Puget Sound beaches and want to help protect them." These individuals, which number more than 100, go out to 11 different parks in the Puget Sound to not only educate but to help people have fun exploring the beach without hurting it.
Barbara Owens, a Beach Naturalist from the Seattle Aquarium, was able to talk about the overall goal of the relocation project on the morning of the August 19. The crew that morning consisted of 14 Beach naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium and 22 volunteers. They were taught via the beach naturalists on low tide weekends in the summer that take place throughout the Sound. The goal that morning was to relocate creatures such as starfish, crabs, moon snails and other various creatures from the North shore to the South shore.
The atmosphere of the beach was a very interacting and educational experience.
Everyone was excited to yell out what they found and how to move it safely. One of the Naturalists even found a clutch of Midshipman hatchlings and their father under a rock. Everyone helping was willing to answer questions, such as what that fishes name was or how they are transporting the creatures to how you safely remove a starfish from a rock. The answer to that is to surprise a starfish before attach themselves to the rock.
Janice Mathisen is the organizer of the Beach Naturalists. She drove a truck to and from the two sites--the north and south beaches-- while coordinating everything. The Beach Naturalists, a group going on 15 years, got involved in the project to help preserve and protect the wildlife that will be affected by the construction of sea wall removal project and to study the effects of the seawall removal.
“We want to let people know what’s going on with the local environment. Preservation is all about education and outreach,” according to Janice Mathisen.
In 2004 a similar, smaller project was done on the south wall, with positive outcomes which is the hopes of this project as well. The removal of the north wall will help to restore the health of the Puget Sound as well as help the recovery process of the Pacific Northwest salmon.
The Seahurst seawall removal project is set to start next month and finish in May of 2014. On the Burien Parks website, it states that "once construction starts, the park will essentially be closed. This will include no parking available at the park, no public access to the park shoreline, with limited pedestrian access to the upland park trails.
To find out more information on how you can get involved with the Beach Naturalist, attend one of their talks or to find out what projects they will be working on please go to www.seattleaquarium.org/beach-naturalist
To find out more about the Seahurst Sea Wall Removal Project please go to https://burienwa.gov/facilities/Facility/Details/19
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