Monday, October 09, 2017

On the upper, upper beach

When I arrive at a beach, at almost any beach along our coastline, I face a series of tasks before I reach the intertidal zone. First, I have to find a passageway through the weed barrier, often infested with blackberry and other difficult plants. Then follows a scramble or climb across driftwood logs piled higgledy-piggledy at the top of the winter storm reach. Then there are rocks, sometimes small and shifty, sometimes large.  And then, the rotting eelgrass/seaweed belt.

I dislike this blue-black strip, sometimes as wide as a street; it may be dry on top, but it could be up to a foot deep, and wet, with no indication to warn me of random deep spots. My feet sink, releasing a foul odor. Flies and sometimes wasps buzz around me; the wasps follow me until I reach bare stones again. And it stinks; did I say that? It stinks of rotting vegetation, and sometimes of unidentifiable putrid carcases. I may have stepped onto or into one.

I reach the stones, rolling underfoot, but at least dry and clean. Then there's a second, narrow, line of dead seaweeds and other detritus, the leftovers of the latest high tide. That's fine; it smells of sea; if it's wet and slippery, I can just step over it.

Finally, the beach. If the tide is low, I can start exploring.

Last visit, the rising tide forced me back to the stretch between the dead seaweed belts. And I found it full of interest.

Eagle feathers. Everywhere, there are feathers.

Probably a gull feather.

Another feather. There are always more feathers.

A scrap of red coralline seaweed.

Jingle shell. This clam look-alike, or "rock oyster" (but it's not an oyster, either) has a hole in the lower shell. Byssal threads grow through this opening to attach the mollusk to a rock.

The lower (jingle) shell is thin and shiny. Tied with other jingles, it makes a nice, jingly wind chime.

Purple shore crab molt. At this level of the intertidal zone, there are no live crabs to be found, but their leftovers are scattered everywhere.

Another one, a male.

Tunnels in a strip of bark.

More tunnels, in a small piece of driftwood.

Another feather. The pale seaweed has been sun-bleached before it dried.

Two feathers, and dried eelgrass, toasted to blue-black. Sea lettuce retains its green colour until it disintegrates.

Bedraggled feather, wrapped in dried sea lettuce.

A rocky fish.

And there's always, always styrofoam. I filled my bag with a fair collection of it, a plastic water bottle, and a beer can. At least, I get a refund on the beer can.

And sho' 'nuff, there was a rotting carcasse! In the next post.

1 comment:

  1. What a grand little seside trip!The bonus, from my chair, is no wiffy smells!

    The bark tunnels are not unlike our "scribbly gums" Eucalyptus haemastoma when the beetles have modified them.


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!