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    Waiheke Island Tidepools

    In the tidepools of the subtropical island of Waiheke (population: 8,500), which lies thirteen miles outside of Auckland in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, are microcosms of marine life which seem to exist in such independence and isolation from one another that it would appear as though the various tidepools are like islands unto themselves.  Protected from the waves by lichen-covered rocks, the myriad saltwater residents of the tide pools live in relative peace and security in their tiny littoral wonderlands.  Crabs nestle in the niches and crevasses of boulders, with aggregations of baby crabs conglomerating under stones.  Sponges, starfish, sea anemones, and barnacles anchor themselves along the seaweed-rich edges of surge channels, where the water level is constantly changing with the tides and thus flushing in the nutrients and out the waste.  The tidepools are filled with forests of red coralline algae, which provides protection for a range of mollusks, namely the whelks and periwinkles, sea snails which have established entire villages and hamlets within the shallow coral forests and scurry amongst the fragmented bones of their kin and ancestors, amongst the calcified skeletons of their brethren, many of whose shells have be repurposed by florescent hermit crabs whom wander the sandy bottoms like street urchins scouring through the rubble of their once intact and now disintegrating city.  Chitons (my personal favorite phylum of mollusks) thrive among the shoreline rocks of Waiheke, and, for reasons of preservation, I hope that doesn't change anytime soon. 


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