Pacific Northwest
During the 2017 Low Tide Celebration, participants could be seen from the Point Robinson Lighthouse spread out across the beach. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, July 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Chris Woods Photo).

FIELD NOTES: A beach full of stories

Low tide celebration offers opportunities to explore and interact

The 14th Annual Low Tide Celebration will be held at Point Robinson beach on Saturday, July 6th during a dramatic -2.8 tide. This event was originally organized to acknowledge the creation of the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve in 2004 — 5,530 acres stretching from Point Robinson along the eastern shoreline of Maury Island, around the tip of Piner Point and encompassing all of Quartermaster Harbor.

The roots of the Low Tide Celebration reach back to annual beach walks started in the 1980s by Sandi Noel and later conducted by Vashon Audubon. Many involved in those walks worked with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to establish the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve in 2004 to protect the extensive eelgrass beds, mudflats, forage fish spawning grounds and important bird habitat on these shorelines. They created the Low Tide Celebration for the public to enjoy and explore the beach while also learning about conservation.

On the beach, Vashon Beach Naturalists, who have completed a course offered by the Vashon Nature Center on the unique geology and biology of the Salish Sea, will be available to answer questions on all the lifeforms found in and around Puget Sound — from plants and micro-plankton to octopi and Orcas. The naturalists practice the art of interpretation, a technique that teaches through the use of storytelling and personal experiences. They also make sure all participants observe Best Beach Practices.

Rayna Holtz, a naturalist who helped establish the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, the Low Tide Celebration and the Beach Naturalist program, says, “The beach is full of stories. The first thing you see on the beach opens up a whole series of questions about all parts of this wonderful puzzle, and in talking about these questions, we become engaged in these stories. It all contributes to what we know.”

Off the beach, there will be lighthouse tours, new exhibits from several environmental groups around Puget Sound and food from Orca Eats.

Vashon Audubon will have a collection of bird skins on display from the Slater Museum. The University of Washington Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) will present an exhibit explaining how they use seabirds to track changes in weather and currents.

King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks will have an interactive Enviroscape on display — a detailed 3-D model of developments, farms and roads that demonstrates how surface water contamination moves into our waterways.

Anna Sander will have new activities for children including beach-oriented crafts, games and art projects. Children will be able to make linoleum block prints of sand dollars and sea stars, which will be exhibited at the Point Robinson lighthouse during First Friday in September. She will also have a giant fish collage that Holtz says, “Should be interesting …”

In a letter to her crew of Beach Naturalists, Holtz wrote, “Together we are filled with the cumulative expertise and passion to usher folks who are new to the beach into this fascinating realm of life, death and adaptation that plays out continuously at every level of the beach, with its strange and amazing flora and fauna.”

Nature Calendar

Saturday, July 6

Low Tide Celebration

The 14th annual celebration of the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve. Come observe the diverse species of animals and algae that live along our marine shoreline.

11a.m. to 4 p.m. at Point Robinson

Saturday, July 13

Vashon Audubon Field Trip

Come birding on the island. Drop in, free and no experience necessary. Bring binoculars and scopes if you have them and wear walking shoes or boots. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Carpools encouraged and can be arranged at Ober Park.

8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Meet at Ober Park Park & Ride.

Saturday, July 13

Where the Water Begins

Free workshop and site walk for King County marine shoreline property owners brought to you by King Conservation District and sponsored by the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. Contact Kristin McCune, at KCD with questions:, 425-282-1927

9 a.m to 3 p.m. at the Land Trust Building 10014 SW Bank Road

Saturday, July 13

Beach Clean-up

Help Whale Scout and King County Parks protect Maury Island Marine Park by volunteering to pick up trash. More info and sign up at or contact Lina Rose at (206) 491-5014

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Maury Island Marine Park.

Thursday, July 25

Land Trust Book Group

We will be reading Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb. Winner of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, Washington Post 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction, Science News Favorite Science Books of 2018 and a Booklist Top Ten Science/Technology Book of 2018. All are welcome!

6:30 p.m. at the Land Trust Building, 10014 SW Bank Road.

Tues. and Wed., July 30 and 31

Shoreline monitoring

No experience required. Must be able to walk a mile on the beach. Curiosity and attention to detail are all you need to bring (and maybe water, lunch and some sun protection).

Email for locations and to sign up.

9:30 a.m to 3 p.m.

All Month

Volunteer with the Land Trust

Several opportunities are available this month to work with the Land Trust at Matsuda Farm and on the trails at or contact Erika at