Sea Caves of Sea Ranch

Over the last month or two I’ve been exploring some of the sea caves found along Sea Ranch’s rocky bluffs.  Most are accessible only at low tide, so some care needs to be taken in planning your access.  I grew up along the south shore of Long Island and most of the beaches there were broad, flat and cliff less.  The north shore of the Island had a rockier shoreline, as did some areas of the eastern end of the south shore, but I never seemed to get around to exploring them.  So I have found these small caves here to be quite exciting and fascinating to explore.  They’re also an interesting and challenging subject to photograph.  In addition to my camera, I had to take along my tripod and a couple of speedlights as well.  A couple of these caves required a fairly steep decent to access the beach, and then some careful tiptoeing across some large and wet rocks.  But it was worth it.

Black Point Sea Cave Black Point Sea Cave with 'Chimney" Black Point Sea Cave looking out to sea

This first group of images was taken at a cave along the very north end of Black Point Beach.  This cave is barely visible from the beach, as the opening directly faces the ocean.  In the first two images I’ve placed a couple of speedlights inside the cave to add a little depth and light to the inside.  In the first image you can see the small encrusted barnacles half way up the wall of the cave, showing tidal elevation.  The second image shows a small ‘chimney’ which opens to the surface of the bluff above.  The last image in this group was taken from the inside of the cave looking out into the surf and distant horizon; and again, I used a couple of speed lights to light the walls of the cave.

Cave at North End of Sea Ranch Cave and Pelicans

This next two images show some caves along the very north end of Sea Ranch where it joins with the Gualala Point Regional Park.  The first image shows a small cave in a rather striking layered rock mantle that looks more like something man-made.  It’s even more impressive up close.  The next image was taken inside the shallow cave looking out, and just in time to capture a ‘squadron’ of pelicans flying by.  

 Fractured Rock

Storm Brewing

The last couple of images were taken along the same stretch of beach as the prior two, only near a small cave around the corner from the last one.  The first image shows the base of the rock structure near the cave, and I was captivated by the sheer size of these rocks and how they look like they were fitted together.  The last image was taken from inside this very shallow cave, and also shows that a storm was brewing.  I barely was able to climb back up the cliff in time to escape the rains.

I don’t know the geologic origin of these particular caves, but many of the caves along this shoreline were formed by fracturing caused by small faults.  The fracturing is certainly evident in the creviced rock faces of this area. 

I really enjoyed exploring these caves, and in trying to learn a little more about using flash in such situations.  There are at least two or three more caves I know I want to explore, but the tide has to be pretty low at the right time of day for me to safely explore them.  As soon as I complete my next expedition, I’ll be sure to post my findings here.

Equipment:  Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Nikon SU 800 Commander Unit and SB 800 and 910 Speedlights, Oben Tripod.

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2 Responses to Sea Caves of Sea Ranch

  1. Chris Wendt says:

    Great photoessay!
    Really interesting area. One very noticeable difference between there and the bluffs at Montauk is the absence, there, of the millions of smaller rocks and stones that cover the beach from Ditch Plains to the Point and back around the other side.

    • Thanks very much Chris, I’m very glad you enjoyed it. And yes, I remember those rocks at Ditch Plains very well, and we don’t seem to have many of those types of rock-laden beaches here, although there are some. Our respective coasts have very different geologic histories and therefore very different processes at play that continue to transform each of them. Here in CA, our coastline IS the interface between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate and therefore seismic forces are the major player in forming our coastline. While LI is still on the NA Plate, the interface of the NA Plate and the Atlantic Plate is in the middle of the Atlantic, so plate tectonics hasn’t played such a major role on the east coast as here on the west coast. CA’s geologic past is more in your face here with all the uplift-exposed layering that’s so prevalent. But that being said, I do sometimes miss those LI beaches; perhaps that’s as much about the times as the place. Both were great, and still strong in my memory.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      Phil

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