This morning during a spectacular sunrise—made even more dramatic by the rare presence of clouds—we headed toward what appeared to be a mesa rising from the middle of the ocean. This apparition was, in fact, Montgomery Reef which is only visible during low tide. The roughly 80-mile long reef is submerged twice a day—by extreme tides. We cruised to a suitable drop-off point, passing rafting-worthy waterfalls and turbulent rivers of sea water still pouring off the reef.
Once ashore, and mindful of the myriad potentially toxic animals around us, we diligently followed our staff biologists and naturalists from one amazing living creature to the next. Almost immediately we were investigating small octopus, rays, living corals, giant bailer snails, and even a spectacularly bold mantis shrimp. Feeling more confident, we walked over crunching dead corals and through nearly seven inches of remaining water. Engrossed in our own explorations, or joining smaller groups, we all had one ear tuned to the occasional yelp of discovery and, as quickly as our water shoes could squelch, we made our way over to be sure we didn’t miss anything. We spent several hours in total tidal pool bliss before heading back to the ship for cookies and stories of who saw how many of what.