The Story of a Tidepooler

Jan 1, 2014 by Abraham Meza Lopez

I was in the middle of the rocks, feeling the wind hitting my face and I couldn´t move my legs. I was stunned, I will never think of the ocean as I have in the past, as the truth was revealed to me. I discovered all the connections, all the living and not living things doing their job in order to keep the balance on the planet.

On my last trip to Rocky Point I visited CEDO, where they have exhibits of the local flora and fauna, including a whale skeleton and an “earthship” built with trash. During my visit I was invited to join an ecotour called “Discover the Tidepools.” I thought, “why not?”  I normally take my children to the tidepools to pick up shells, sea stars and sand dollars so they can decorate at home, so I signed up for the tour and I took my 2 kids and my wife with me.

Arriving for the tour, our guide told us about CEDO and its mission. CEDO works with local people helping them create sustainable ways of living in order to use the resources responsibly without exhausting them, and CEDO also works to educate Rocky Point visitors – students and tourists from Mexico, USA and other countries.

I´m in a hurry to get to the tidepools and pick up shells; I look at my kids and wonder if they are thinking the same thing. I take my wife´s hand and give her a kiss, she responds by hugging me, while the guide asks us pointing at the rocky reef, “how do you think these rocks got here?” I nudge one of my kids to answer, and he turns red as a tomato. The guide explains to us how the volcanic eruptions form two of the 3 types of rocks in the area, but there is a very special one “the coquina rock,” formed by the interaction of sediment from rivers and shells. I can´t hide my surprise because I thought those were lava flows.  The guide asks for 3 volunteers, of course my wife and my kids are the ones chosen, because we are the only four on the tour. He explains how the forces and position of the moon, sun and earth generate the tides, and I laugh to see my daughter and son pulling their mom´s arms. He also explains that because of these tidal actions, some zones of the rocky reef are covered longer by water than others, influencing the distribution and adaptations of organisms in the rocky reef.

“Uh-uh,” he says – we are not allowed to take anything with us, just pictures, memories and our garbage.  I feel a bit disappointed, but I change my mind when he points to some people taking snails to sell; others are collecting octopi, and groups of families like mine are picking up shells. I see some people down the beach who are drinking, and a group of young boys are leaving their garbage bag on the beach. I begin to understand that this habitat is fragile, and we are disrupting the balance whenever we remove something that belongs here or leave something of ours behind.

My journey through the rocky reef becomes exciting as we discover barnacles, snails and red tipped hermit crabs. Then crabs hiding under the rocks – hairy crab, spider crab, decorator crab, lumpy claw crab and even swimming crab – live here. My kids look like adventurers, excited about finding new things, things I never noticed before; but this time is different, we are observing and learning from them. Under a rock we pick up some brittle star, my wife takes it on her hand and smiles at me. Sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sponges, anemones, algae, pistol shrimp, and then my guide yells, “a nudibranch!” I’m thinking, “What is a nudibranch?” I try to walk when I realize I am now in the middle of the rocks, feeling the wind hit my face, and I can´t move my legs. I am stunned, I will never think of the ocean the way I did before as the truth was revealed to me, I discovered all the connections, all the living and not living things doing their job in order to keep the balance on the planet.

This is a confession I´ll just tell you and nobody else, as tears drop from my eyes. I have been pondering that probably the mission of humans on Earth has become to bring chaos to the environment.  In the end, the universe tends towards chaos, but have we thought about the consequences? Have we noticed that with this chaos we are dooming ourselves to extinction?

Note: Story based on the comments of people that have participated in CEDO ecotours, and dedicated to them. If you would like to know more about CEDO ecotours, e-mail us to info@cedointercultural.org or visit www.cedointercultural.org.

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