View from inside a cave looking out to a large rock called Elephant Rock. The cave walls are black and there is a stream of water leading out to the rock and the ocean.

Experiencing Nature in a City vs. a National Park- Alícia Kelley

I have always lived in cities, including large ones in South America. However, I considered myself a person heavily connected to the outdoors: going on hikes in the mountains, driving to the beach, or going to a ranch to become immersed in nature. I learned recently that I have never experienced nature to the extent that I have during my summer internship at Point Reyes National Seashore.

When I was growing up, I played tag outside rather than video games like others my age. I went horseback riding during long weekends since I was four years old, and I was exposed to monkeys, alligators, and lots of cows when traveling within Brazil. Whenever I saw a frog, I would think it was so wild! When I lived in the capital city of Venezuela, I had tarantula and scorpion visitors at my house since I lived next to a rainforest.

Young Latina woman is posing to the camera in her uniform. There is a grey rocky ground, a boulder on the right, and a large rock in the water in the background called Elephant rock.
Elephant Rock at Point Reyes National Seashore

When I arrived at Point Reyes for my internship I realized that despite all my experiences as a city girl in the “wild” I still was very unfamiliar with many organisms that surrounded me. When I first arrived at the park I had trouble distinguishing between a black-tailed deer and a tule elk. I then started to see California Quails, weasels, elephant seals, humpback whales, a gopher snake, a grey fox, and more.

View of rocks covered in black mussels with a rocky grey and light brown cliff in the background. The sky is a grey fog.
McClures Beach Mussels at Point Reyes National Seashore

My supervisor took me to the tidepools at the park, which was a really great experience for me! I was exposed to organisms from the intertidal region and I learned that sea stars could come in a variety of colors rather than just orange. I climbed rocks that were covered in mussels, I learned which seaweed was the least slippery, and I entered a cave as well. I thought I had gone tidepooling before but I quickly learned that it was nothing like this experience. I was very happy that I went on this adventure and that I got to learn more about the organisms on the shore.

View of the ground with black mussels, orange and purple sea stars, and green sea anemones.
Intertidal Organisms Including Sea Stars, Mussels, and Sea Anemones at Point Reyes National Seashore

My time here at Point Reyes National Seashore has expanded my knowledge of organisms greatly. I realized that although driving to local parks is valuable, living at a National Park has provided me with a more in depth exposure not only to scenic views but also to different species and wildlife. I have learned a lot about tidepooling and I will continue to look for ways to become more exposed to wildlife in the future.

On the left: Young Latina woman in LHIP uniform holding a bat star in one hand. On the right: Young woman looking over at the bat star. Both women are smiling looking at the bat star and they are both wearing windbreaker jackets. The background consists of a dark grey rocky structure.
Looking at a Bat Star with a Coworker

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