9 Feb 2017

Swimming at Queens

Over the weekend we went to Queens Beach, Sea Point, and I got in the water for the first time in years. We arrived by chance at very low tide, and I'd packed my costume for once. It was a hot day and not windy -- Queens anyway is a protected spot, even when everywhere else is blown.

The tidal pool is a tiny one, tucked into the corner of the beach, with rocks all around, and very protected from the waves at such low tide. The water was warm up until about knee-height (the bit the sun had warmed) but after that it was chilly! I don't know what the temperature was but here it tells me that today "Cape Town" sea temperature was around 18 degrees C, with a range of 16-20 degrees. That "Cape Town" bit is pretty silly, I'm afraid, as the two currents on the two sides of the peninsula are quite different, with False Bay/Muizenberg much warmer on the whole than Sea Point (positively cold -- and more exciting in a way because of it). This surf site has the more useful info that Muizenberg was at least a full degree warmer than Hout Bay (on the same side as Sea Point) today. Anyway, digression!

I had a dip with the children, and then we went anemone-hunting in the rock pools which were safely exposed. It's been a while since I clambered around there, instead of sitting on the beach. How the dynamic changes when there's one adult and two children, instead of two adults and two children. I didn't want to let them wander on the rocks as the tide considered coming in, so I went along. And enjoyed it!

We found the big anemones first -- big fat doughnuts covered in sand, or still feebly waving their tentacles. Pale dirty cream. We gently put our fingers in, sharing out the supply between the three of us. The tentacles are like a cat's tongue, not like glue.

Then the tiny ones came to light, as our eyes got used to seeing them. Little babies no bigger than a fingernail tucked next to their older brothers and sisters, or granddaddies in some cases.

We spotted a rash of starfish tucked under the rocks, fourteen in one go. Dark greyish, sludgy green. Not much more than 3 or 4 cms across. The kind that looks a bit like a webbed star, not the kind with distinct arms. We did a little bit of barbaric feeding -- mussels to anemones. We didn't put our hands or our feet into the pools that were dense with sea weed (dead man's finger, sea lettuce, tongue weed, mermaid's hair) -- not because the seaweed was yucky, but because sea urchins are not nice rockpool inhabitants to discover by touch. We saw one or two in the pools closest to the waves.

And then we got an ice-cream (a rather bland soft serve) and went home to rinse off the salt. Finding Dory was a good end to the day. Just keep swimming...

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