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Remembering the Good Days: Montañita, Ecuador Shoreline 2020!

Montañita Beach is more than just a sandy beach. Though it has amazing weather, beautiful blue waters, and soft sand...it also is an ecosystem that houses many fascinating discoveries. Can you believe all these photos of our Ecuador trip were from October and November months? Still better than June and July weather here in Colorado...anyways enough with the sad weather comparisons. First, let's start with the scene:



When we step out from our normal beach entrance, this is what we see to the left of us, in front of us, and to the right of us. You can see in the right picture there is a land formation jutting out from the cliff. That is where we like to spend most of our time.



These (video above and image below) were taken on different days and you can really see the difference between one day and the next. Though in the image below, even if it's really cloudy like this, it can still be likely cold but bearable with a light jacket. We have only had it be this cloudy and rainy a couple of times during our two-month stay. This low season was perfect since we can burn pretty easily and cloudy days meant a lower chance of that. Also meant fewer people which we were looking for too!



Here is almost on the tip of that jutting land looking back towards the beach. The photo is a bit deceiving in that the walk back looks very short and easy...it's not. There are many different rock formations that require you to be alert with every step. There are sea urchins, sharp rocks, and unstable rocks with every step. But once you have walked over it three to four times you'll adjust and be prepared for the strange changes. Take a few steps further to the actual tip and around the corner to where our favorite spot is!



This is just around the bend and behind is where we picked up a lot of small and unique seashells. Yes, they are small but the details and such are amazing, and would be great to have kids search for the coolest things they can find here!



Larger seashells we found elsewhere but I'll get into that in another post. Actually, we will focus on seashells in another post. There is just too much just with this small section of the Montañita shoreline.


I wanted to show some more of the different rock formations on that shoreline. Here are some different locations from the same area kinda showing what type of rocks you would be walking on. As you can see....these pictures were taken on different days. Even during the off-season, the place was still lovely! Every week you would still get at least a day or two of lovely weather. The rest was usually cloudy, possibly a light chill (we only needed our sweatshirts for one day and only a couple hours for our whole 2-month trip! In October and November!).



Now there were a few rock formations I wanted to specifically point out. Remember the fourth picture at the top of this post? The rocks below are from our walk from the sandy beach to the land formation separating Montañita and Olón. There are very unique structures that hint at what the land material is made out of, how the waves may have impacted it, or the ocean's pathways as well as various other details. There were so many we didn't have much time to keep up. But we will keep these in mind for the future in case we come across this information! All of these are just a few steps from each other and within less than half a mile walk.




These here I wanted to focus on a little. These holes are caused by sea urchins! They are actually able to grind away at the stone and consume the minerals found. But they also leave these really cool drilled holes! On the flip side...they make tons of holes and dangerous sections where if you fall...there is no place to put your hand down to catch yourself. So when walking these sections, be wary that the ground is slippery and you could fall.


Lastly about the rock formations is what we had found within the cliffs. The first picture below shows the shoreline of where we are focusing. The second image is the exact section we are talking about and the third image is the odd discovery we had made. We aren't sure which mineral it is at this time and are still trying to research it. We did bring back home a specimen to look further into. Once we find out we will have to make a post on it! If you happen to know, PLEASE send us a message!



Still, on the topic of interesting formations, we have what we believe may be considered 'carpet sea anemone. They are almost everywhere over the rocks and slippery to step on. You don't really have a choice in most areas. Stepping on them causes a squish that usually releases water. Unless you are over 200lbs or overly concentrating your weight in one spot, they are usually fine and bounce back. On our walk between Olón and Montañita, we walked about a mile across these, with sections where meters/yards where you had to walk on them to get by. We showed Michelle's family some photos and now, to us, they just look like undiscovered diseases. Still, like in the first two pictures, they can be really pretty if in the right light and angle!



Below are a few shots of the various lifeforms though we didn't take a picture of a few of them: such as the two to three different species of crabs we found. They were usually too fast and we didn't have to push ourselves to collect photos as there was plenty for us to discover with ease.



Michelle: The last critter I want to go over that amazed me most was seeing live sand dollars! LIVE ones and tons of them! I have lived near a beach and have frequented many during my travels both within the US and in other countries. Never had I seen a live one. And never had I ever came across a dead one on this beach. I normally only find dead ones. John was just as amazed to see so many as well. We now know how to hunt for live sand dollars!


The first picture below is of the live sand dollar as it was burrowing back underground. The second image is of its underside. You can see the little limbs from the edges of the shell! They are kind of stiff and wiggle like centipede's legs. The last picture is the clues we've found to indicate there is a sand dollar underneath. We usually head out to the beach during low tide (also the best time to pick up shells in general).



Pretty cool isn't it?! This was the very first live sand dollar I had ever seen!


We also saw these Sea Slugs that are much more colorful underneath! We gently popped one over and observed how they wiggle in order to reorientate themselves.



That's the summary of our Montañita beach and shoreline adventure. We didn't go too far on the other side of the beach as it just keeps going and into the next town a few miles down. For some reason, we weren't as interested in that side and stayed mostly towards the north end. It might also be because more people are on that side hanging out since it is closer to businesses and homes.


What sort of new and unique things have you found at a beach? Which beach in the world would you really love to explore? We'll be posting another Ecuador post in a week to explain more of our adventure there! Keep a look out!

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