If you are looking for a low-cost educational activity to do with your children, or just want to get outdoors, a series of low tides later this week just might be the answer.
Beginning Thursday and running through May 29, some of the lowest tides of the summer will take place from late morning to mid afternoon, offering an excellent opportunity to explore the South Sound’s rocky beaches.
As the waters recede, beachgoers can turn over large rocks to see shrimp-like euphausiids and a variety of crabs. Look around the base of pilings for clumps of sea stars. In exposed areas you might come across a sea urchin or maybe a young octopus.
The South Sound has a number of locations that are ideal for searching for marine life when the tide is out.
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They include Titlow Beach in Tacoma; Priest Point Park, Burfoot Park and Tolmie State Park in Olympia; the Fox Island bridge; the Purdy Spit, Kopachuck State Park and Penrose Point State Park in the Gig Harbor area; Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon Island; and Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom.
If you want some help identifying sea cucumbers, gunnels and moon snails, you can take part in Metro Parks Tacoma’s Tiptoe Through the Tidepools program (metroparkstacoma.org) from noon-3 p.m. Saturday.
A naturalist will guide families as they walk along Titlow Beach at the west end of Sixth Avenue in Tacoma.
The South Sound Estuary Association in Olympia (sseacenter.org/mtb) will begins its Meet the Beach program this week as well. Trained naturalists will be at Burfoot County Park and at Tolmie State Park from noon-3 p.m. Saturday, 1-4 p.m. May 28 and 2-5 p.m. May 29.
There are several other organized low-tide programs taking place around the South Sound. Gig Harbor-based Harbor WildWatch (harborwildwatch.org) will begin its Get Your Feet Wet program June 10. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (pdza.org/explore-shore) offers Explore the Shore, beginning June 12.
Whether you are attending an organized event, or just exploring on your own, be sure to wear sturdy shoes or boot to protect you from sharp rocks and shells. Also bring plenty of water and sunscreen. For young children, bring snacks as a treat, and a change of clothes in case they get wet or dirty.
If you don’t have the opportunity to get out this week, there will be more sets of very low tides taking place during the day from June 22-27 and July 21-25.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
When to go
Low tide times at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Thursday, 11:35 a.m., -2.5 feet; Friday, 12:19 p.m., -3.3 feet; Saturday, 1:05 p.m., -3.5 feet; May 28, 1:54 p.m., -3.3 feet; May 29, 2:43 p.m., -2.5 feet.
Low tide times at Budd Inlet in Olympia: Thursday, 12:09 p.m., -2.7 feet; Friday, 12:53 p.m., -3.5 feet; Saturday, 1:39 p.m., -3.7 feet; May 28, 2:28 p.m., -3.5 feet; May 29, 3:17 p.m., -2.7 feet.
Elsewhere: You can check tide times for locations around Puget Sound at saltwatertides.com.