The view westward from Mavericks Beach, as dozens of spectators and sea foragers comb the low tide. (Photo by Charles Russo)

It was a tide pool wonderland during the exceptionally low tide this week.

What goes up also comes down.

It was this simple law of nature that had Pillar Point Harbor (and the adjacent Princeton-by-the-Sea neighborhood) abuzz this weekend, as families, fishermen and local nature lovers alike all made the trek out to Mavericks Beach late Saturday afternoon to witness the inverse effect of the King Tide.

A forager shows off a sea urchin shortly after a sneaker waver washed their earlier haul back into the ocean. (Photo by Charles Russo)

The phenomenon, which refers to the highest tides of the year (often more than two feet above the average tides) also results in an opposite effect: the lowest of low tides. Along key areas of the coast, this exceptional recession of the King Tide can briefly transform the landscape into a sort of living aquarium as distant stretches of the ocean floor are exposed. Mavericks Beach — about a half mile from the world famous Northern California big wave surf break — is a prime location to experience the type of tide pool wonderland that ensues from this natural phenomenon.

Even as the sun sank low over the ocean, large crowds of people made the walk around Pillar Point to explore a vast low tide seascape that sprawled the length of a football field out towards the Pacific Ocean. Many turned out merely to spectate the vast tide pools filled with starfish, myriad types of crab and a virtual garden of sea anemones. Yet unlike Fitzgerald Marine Reserve to the immediate north, this particular area was a prime opportunity for fishing and sea foraging. Large numbers of people combed the area for mussels, clams and sea urchins, while others fished among the rocks for monkey-faced eels, or cast more traditional fishing rods straight out into the ocean.

It was wet, cold and absolutely exceptional…take a look…

From left: A brightly colored sea anemone amongst the tide pools just beyond Mavericks Beach; a local fisherwoman pulls a red rock crab from its hiding place along the shoreline (before letting it loose again). (Photo by Charles Russo)
The view north from Pillar Point towards Fitzgerald Marine Reserve during the exceptionally low tide on Saturday, January 11th. (Photo by Charles Russo)
Clockwise from top left: closeup of a horseneck clam; a starfish in the tide pools just off of Mavericks Beach; a spiny purple sea urchin; hordes of mussels that line the exposed rocks during low tide. (Photos by Charles Russo)
A pair of fishermen cast their lines northward during the low tide. (Photo by Charles Russo)
Dusk sets in during an exceptionally low tide along the San Mateo Coast, on Saturday, January 11th. (Photo by Charles Russo)

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Check out more Six Fifty photography:

Charles Russo

Award-winning writer and photographer with extensive experience across mediums, including videography, investigative reporting, editing, advanced research, and a wide range of photography.

Author of Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America; represented by Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

Freelance clients include Google, VICE and Stanford University.

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