Saturday, 8 April 2017

After the storm

A big storm can only mean one thing ... big treasures washed up on the beach!

We took a walk along the beach in the evening and found several blue, gas-filled bags, that are Portuguese Man-of-Wars. They resemble a jellyfish, but are actually a colony of specialized individual animals that can only survive by living together and functioning as a single animal. They usually live out in the open ocean, with the gas-filled bladder floating at the top of the water and the long tentacles submerged below them. They get washed up in bad weather as they have no means of propulsion, drifting wherever the wind takes them. They can give a very nasty sting, even when washed up on the beach.

We found a couple of dead ghost crabs. They live in the sand, coming out at night to look for food. We're planning to go out to the beach with a torch after dark because you can see them running around all over the beach. They get startled by the light and dive down into the burrows in the sand. It's supposed to be quite a sight.

We also found lots of shells washed up on the beach, and although they all seemed to be only parts of a shell, we did find some cool ones.

Channelled Duck Clam - Paper thin and is also known as Sailor's Ear
Giant Atlantic cockles

Scotch Bonnet - The State shell of North Carolina
and quite a rare find

You can see the big lip and bumps on the shell

The top part of a knobbed whelk
Pear whelks
We're not sure, either a Knobbed whelk or a Channelled
whelk - It's the size of my hand!

Next morning we waited for low tide and searched the beach again. There were lots of great bits of shell on the beach, but if you stood in the water and looked carefully, you could spot some huge whole shells. Our best find of the day was a whole knobbed whelk, a huge conch-like shell.
Knobbed whelk - the state shell of Georgia
We collected several whole lettered olives

Calico scallop (left) and a buttercup lucine (right)

Complete pear whelk
Then we found a strange looking fish washed up on the beach. We found out later that it was a striped burrfish, which is a bit like a puffer fish because it can inflate itself when startled. It was still alive so we rescued it, putting it back in the sea and watching it swim away.

We found pieces of some huge crabs and shark egg cases as well.
It was all topped off by dolphins swimming along the beach right in front of us. What a brilliant place! 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Fantastic day in the States for you then. Beautiful photos of the shells and puffer fish. I wish I was there, though I'm happy finding some amazing bugs back here in Norfolk.