Bullwhip Kelp

Wednesday, May 9 – Florida Tech Oceanography goes to Lighthouse Beach.  Here we found a 25-foot bullwhip kelp washed ashore. It had been torn loose from its holdfast by rough waves and deposited on Lighthouse Beach.

Lighthouse is a breathtaking little beach with Cape Arago Lighthouse on the South end and Mussel Point on the North. The lighthouse was owned and operated by the Coast Guard, but the island/point on which it sits is a Native American burial ground. Some years back, the Coast Guard gave the land back to the tribe. The lighthouse apparently no longer functions as such and access to the island itself is prohibited, but we were there for the adjacent beach.

To access the beach, we parked on Cape Arago highway and slipped down a fun public access between two houses on Lighthouse Rd.  The path was steep and someone had strung a rope for those who are less sure-footed. In a way, I cheated when I selected Lighthouse Beach for our Florida Tech Oceanography students to visit for their exposure (pun intended) to a Pacific Northwest sandy beach.

Lighthouse has great rocky intertidal boulders and a rock wall at the lighthouse end of the beach. Florida Tech oceanography students all have been enjoying the rocky intertidal trips so much, that, after we were done sampling the sandy beach organisms, we went down to the end of the beach and hit the rocky intertidal – again! There was a large tree, fallen from the cliff above, which we could not resist checking out.

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