There are three essential items needed for a late night excursion to False Bay: rubber boots, headlamp, and a tolerant nose. When I first walked out onto the Mudflat, I was completely surprised at how extensive the mudflat was. I had no idea that practically the entire bay could become a mudflat shallow enough to walk on. I also learned that the odd smell wafting from the mudflat was coming from seaweed.
Because of the diversity within the bay, it was set aside as a preserve and the public is only allowed on the mudflat as long as they do not disturb the wildlife. False Bay was one of five preserves on San Juan created in 1990 and is approximately 300 acres. Specifically, the preserve was created for: “stewardship of unique or important resources or habitats, provide research and education areas, and provide baseline areas or reference sites.”
After doing some research on False Bay, it became clear that protection was the main issue for the wildlife living on the mudflat. Protection from human influences, the physical environment, and of course each organism’s predators. During the summer, the mudflat is exposed for long hours in the sunlight, which is probably why so many burrowing animals live in this area. Organisms such as bivalves, mud shrimp, ghost shrimp, and polychaetes all protect themselves by burrowing in the mud. Other, bigger, animals such as crabs try to protect themselves from the warming of the sun by staying the depressions and tide pools, but I can’t imagine it would stay cool enough for them for long.
From just our one trip, most of us were lucky enough to see a lot of the organisms I talked about above. It was a great experience overall because I think this mudflat provides a different kind of diversity and uniqueness for the San Juan Island.