What You See
In this August 1, 2016 photo, the rock and beachface have about a 25% cover of small and medium sized Rockweed (Fucus spp.) and widely scattered barnacles (white spots in the photo). But also moderate-sized patches of Mussels (black areas). On the lower-left corner of the rock is a patch of a different brownish seaweed. Note also the areas of dense eelgrass in the water (behind the rock).
The most surprising thing in summer 2016 is the return of mussels! It has been over two decades since mussels were a conspicuous part of the marine life here (see the 1993 to 1995 photos). There were many baby mussels on the seaweed in 2007, but they did not survive to visible adults in 2008. In 2015 they may have settled as practically-invisible specks, but were certainly not apparent in that photo. During the summer, we heard from other researchers that 2016 was a "big year" for inter-tidal mussels in Prince William Sound and beyond.
The cover of Rockweed has increased a little since 2015, but is still way below the cover seen in 2012 and 2013.
These observation raise the question: What will the scene be like in summer 2017? Will the mussels and Rockweed continue to grow and expand? Indeed, why did it take several decades for mussels to conspicously re-assert themselves? Do we have to wait two more decades to see mussels here again?