The King Tide of Wednesday December 14 peaked at 11:23 a.m. and easily breached the seawall along Marina Boulevard and along the dirt-trail Virginia Street Extension. The water level in the North Basin was so high that when I walked along Marina Boulevard it felt like walking along a levy in the Delta or a dike in the Netherlands. The intrusion was slow and gentle, without waves, and no apparent damage was done other than thoroughly soaking the dirt and leaving parts of the Virginia Street trail a muddy mess.
The Scaup were out in force, as they had been on my last visit a few days earlier. This time the Coots had obtained reinforcements. I saw only a handful last time; this time the flock was probably near a hundred. Coots don’t much care for deep water. Low tide is their Shangri-la, and the breach in the seawall along Virginia Street formed an inviting portal to the shallow flood over the muddy trail. Several dozen Coots penetrated the breach and dabbled in the mud on the human trail, but didn’t find much of interest, and soon yielded the spot to others as inquisitive as themselves. Evidently Coots don’t communicate the quality of a food source by issuing pheromone signals to their fellows, as bees and ants do; this ability would have saved quite a few trips.
The King Tide is a preview of the higher normal sea levels that are coming in the decades ahead, now that the Trump administration has taken its foot off the brake on global warming and stepped instead on the accelerator.