Mountain “Tidal” Pools

I love the ocean. I also love the mountains. Upon first glance, mountains and oceans really don’t have much in common. And, actually, they are kind of opposites. Mountains reach far into the sky whereas the ocean hides its depths down to the sea floor. By this virtue, mountains have been explored and climbed, most peaks reached at one time or another. On the other hand, there is still so much of the ocean that we may never know; the vastness of the oceans offers mystery and history, the majority of which is beyond human exploration’s reaches.

As opposite as they are, the mountains and the ocean share at least one similarity, and that is the diversity of life they support. Growing up, I spent hours exploring tide pools, jumping from rock to rock on the Atlantic Coast, exploring the treasures of the tide. The little pools of seawater were filled with creatures and plants, keeping my curious mind occupied as the tides slowly came in and then receded again. These microcosms came to  mind again not at the beach, but when I was 7,500 feet above sea level in the Alps.

Between my recent time spent in the Swiss Alps and foothills of the Black Forest (as well as studying the biodiversity of the region), I have learned that on and under just one rock, there can be multiple species of mosses, tons of different lichens, various “cushion plants”, and several types of grasses. When examining one specific rock for an assignment, a classmate of mine (also an avid ocean lover) compared it to a tide pool. Yes, one is underwater and the other is found where the air is thin, but they share the same basic principles that come along with a microhabitat. At first glance, it’s just a little water, or it’s just a rock, but looker further, notice the beautiful details of the space filled with life, and so much to discover.


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