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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribbly_gum when the beetles have modified them.

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