Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


False Bay

False Bay

Looking at False Bay on a chart, the indentation looks like a large, inviting safe harbor on an otherwise exposed coastline. As you can see by this photograph, the bay at low tide is a rock strewn mud flat. The University of Washington owns (as I understand it) all of the bay and indeed it must be a marine biologist’s dream come true being the largest mud flat in the county. Most observers don’t see the diverse habitat that a stinking mud flat offers marine organisms. There’s even a little known habitat called the interstitial realm, in other words, the space between the grains of mud and sand where a world of microscopic critters live out their existence.

So while as a boater I regret the lack of a luscious safe harbor, as an amateur marine ecologist I recognize the value of this diverse realm of worms, bivalves, crustaceans, and bacteria that exist under the surface and the birds, raccoons, foxes, and occasional human student that search them out at the surface.

I love little nooks like Sooke Harbor on Vancouver Island, Boot Cove on Saturna Island in the Gulf Islands, and Blind Bay on Shaw in the San Juans, and I’ve been making a list of kayaking possibilities that I’d like to pursue. False Bay at high tide when there’s a whopping three to four feet of seawater over the mud and rocks would be a huge expanse of territory to explore by kayak some summer afternoon. That, at least, would satisfy my “boating in False Bay” fantasy that the bay on a chart has always fostered.


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