David Rosen
Tonight's low tide brought out families from all over West Seattle and beyond to scour the beach with flashlights looking for interesting creatures that we usually don't see during the daytime. Beach naturalist staff and volunteers were on hand to answer any questions that people may have had about the creatures and to offer neat facts about them as well.

SLIDESHOW: It's only natural; People from West Seattle flock to the beach to scope out nighttime creatures.

By David Rosen

Tonight's weather, combined with a -1.66 tide, brought out families from West Seattle and all over the Seattle area to scour the beach with their kids to look for nighttime critters and starfish. Beach naturalist staff and volunteers were on site to answer any questions about what they had seen and to offer interesting facts about different sea creatures.

About 75 people reserved their spot for the event tonight from the aquarium's website, but a lot of walk-ups pushed the number to about 150. Registering is not mandatory but the naturalists like to keep a tally on how many people show up to these kind of events. Tonight was the last night for the low tide beach walk put on by the beach naturalists but will resume for the daytime versions during the summer.

Barbara Owens, beach naturalist, spoke to the West Seattle Herald:

"The Aquarium is the main coordinator for this program and funding comes in from a lot of different places. There are staff like myself known as captains, which help with training and supervising on the beach. We also get an army of volunteers, up to 200 people for this program so it's a really great program and a lot of the volunteers keep coming back to do this.

"The cool thing with all of these bright flashlights is you get to see all the small, little things you might miss. We're seeing thousands of shrimp, little tiny shrimp, big green shrimp. It's like a soup of shrimp out here that catches my eye, definitely. There are also a lot of kelp crabs that move around a lot and sea anemones and other neat things. The best part for us is to geek out on marine biology. We get to talk to people who don't know what they're looking at and we love talking about it, and we get as excited as they do."

The Vitelli family was out this evening scouring the beach with flashlights and found some neat things. Diego Vitelli said, " My mom is a beach naturalist and she invited us out to see what the creatures are doing tonight. I also brought my girlfriend and her kids, my kids, and my son's friend.

"The only thing I haven't seen before was a tube worm," he said. "Tube worms retract into the tubes when the tide goes out. We saw a sunflower star with 24 legs, and a bunch of crabs moving around in the water. It's a great experience for the kids and it's a fun event for everyone to come to."

The Seattle Aquarium offers free beach natural programs during the summer. Their programs start on May 25, 2013 and go until July 23, 2013.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer beach naturalist you can contact them by email at beachnaturalist@seattleaquarium.org or call 206-386-4365 by March 22, 2013.

For more information about the Seattle Aquarium, visit their website Here.

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