Saturday, December 26, 2015

Empty beach

Saratoga Beach, Christmas day; a rare moment when all the groups of walkers were behind me.

Fine, white sand (viewed under a light). And fine, new, white snow on the distant mountains.

Something very strange; I collected a good handful of sand from the very edge of the water, well below the upper intertidal limit. I took it home in a plastic bag, poured it into a tray and watched it under a lens, and then my hand microscope. Usually, within minutes I can see signs of activity; a grain of sand tumbling as a worm thrashes underneath it, a minute snail making his slow way among the "rocks", a string of copepods chasing each other through the ravines.

There was nothing happening here. Not the least hint of vibration. No corner-of-my-eye flashes, gone before I turned my attention that way. Viewed from an angle, no mini-bubbles.

I left the tray overnight, and then over the whole day, giving worms time to build their tubes to the surface. Nothing happened. I looked again, just now. There's nothing there but glassy sand grains and water. Not even remains of sea creatures, broken shells and bits of crab molt. Nothing but sand.

I have never seen anything similar, except in sun-baked sand found on top of logs. There should be something alive there!

Granted, my microscope only goes to 40x, so with a more powerful machine, I could probably find bacteria and diatoms. But it is still curious; there should be hundreds of worms in there, at least!

I must make a return trip, collect more sand, from different spots.

(I flipped a few stones on that spit in the distance. No crabs, no snails. I did find some barnacles.)


  1. Must be fun exploring a new area.

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  3. A fascinating mystery! The more we look, the more we see. Thanks for stopping by, Susannah. Wishing you and yours a very healthy and happy New Year. :)

  4. The year they opened the paved road in Baja down to La Paz my ex-husband and I took truck with a small camper on back on a two week adventure. On a side road we discovered a good sized cove with a pristine sandy beach with not even one footprint. It was thrilling for me since at the time I hadn't been that far away from civilization. - Margy


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