Monday, 10 April 2017

Sand dollars, huge shells and wild horses

Written by Bug Mad Girl ...

Today we went to Shackleford Island to look at the wild horses and to go shelling. We took a trip on a boat, and saw dolphins jumping around in front of us. There even seemed to be a baby one! Later, we arrived at the island, and walked round to the side which is apparently best for shelling, and lying on the sand in front of us was a complete whelk shell! We continued walking, and that's when Mum spotted something in the water.. so I dived in to grab it, and our prize was a HUGE shell, bigger than any we'd found so far.
Our biggest shell so far!

We had a quick lunch on our island beach ...

... then decided to wade deeper into the sea and have a swim. While we were out there, we spotted more shells in the water and started to build up a collection of huge lightning and knobbed whelks. We also found complete sand dollars (a type of flattened sea urchin), which are really pretty and quite hard to find whole as they're so fragile. 

All our prizes
Sand dollars
Just as we were leaving, I spotted an unusual shell in the shallow water. It was smaller than the huge whelk shells, but had a distinctive pattern on it and it turned out to be a cowrie shell. Something completely different to our other finds and a little bit special.
Cowrie shell
The island is home to wild horses, that are said to be the descendants of Spanish horses shipwrecked from galleons in the 1500's. We saw a couple of them as we were waiting for the boat to come back to the island and pick us up.

We found a few more treasures on the beach ...

A bone, but we're not sure what it's from. It's very light though and is full of
little holes, so maybe it's from a bird
Portuguese man-of-war

Horseshoe crab shell washed up on the beach - they were around 450 million
years ago so are considered living fossils
A tiny starfish on the shell of the horseshoe crab
A great egret (left) and a tricoloured heron (right)
On the boat back to the mainland, we saw some more dolphins and spent a few minutes watching them. They were Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

We had a brilliant day on the island!

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