Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Empty shore?

It looks bare, but it's full of life.

Gulls, rocks, worms, rockweed. And mist.

But the sand is full of worms, and their hopeful feeding tubes.

Walking over this "bare" sand, every few steps, I get sprayed by an invisible resident just under the surface, reacting to the vibration of my steps and retreating quickly to a deeper level.

The stony end of the beach, colour-coded.

The bright green areas are sandstone with maybe half an inch of green algae on top. Brown areas have about an inch of another seaweed; brownish green is rockweed, maybe two inches deep. And the tan areas are sandstone, the only safe place to put down a foot.

The green algae are as slippery as wet ice; the brown algae is worse; it's like wet ice with a coating of slush on top. Rocks roll; they're just loosely scattered on the sandstone. Stepping a bit more confidently on a patch of rockweed - silly me! - I slipped and ended up sitting in a hollow in the rock, which luckily halted my fall before I twisted anything major.

It's not a human-friendly location. But there are tiny fish in every pool, crabs under the rocks, barnacles and limpets and tiny snails everywhere.

Limpet and barnacle community on the sheltered side of a rock.

The underside of the rocks are bursting with life. Here, a large striped whelk, with a little periwinkle on its tip, a dead clam wearing a pair of limpets, assorted seaweeds, barnacles, and everywhere you look closely, more periwinkles. If you look inside that empty clamshell, you may find a surprising assortment of critters; hermits, crabs, worms, amphipods, limpets, you name it. On the deep underside of the rocks, a few starfish cling, and plumose anemones dangle loosely, waiting for the water to return.

Around the drier rocks, a swarm of tiny flies flitted and danced, almost never stopping. (How do they eat, if they never stand still?) Whenever I stopped to look at anything, the flies moved over to circle my head, tickling a bit, but never landing.

I tried to find one stopped to get a better look, but finally gave up and shot several dozen photos of a spot where they were congregating. I caught two of them:

Long legs and it seems that the wings are striped, or spotted.

And maybe a striped abdomen as well.

I don't know what they are. Nor where they go when the tide comes in. Do they sleep on the bare rocks of the breakwater until the water leaves again?

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