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Archive for the ‘Beach and Coastal Wildlife’ Category

By the Wind Sailor

Posted by Jody on August 23, 2014

Greg and I recently returned from another fantastic visit to the Bay Area (and points north).

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

While strolling Stinson Beach one perfect July afternoon, we happened upon a large number jelly-like oval-shaped creatures washed up on the sand. :-( They were the most striking deep blue in color. I recognized them right away, even though I had never seen one of these strange little life forms in person before.

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

Their distinctive “sail” was the give-away!

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

Nobody (except the scavenging gulls) seemed to pay them any mind at all. Harmless to humans, these amazing marine organisms are called “by the wind sailors” (Velella velella ). They live on the surface of the ocean and can be found on both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast of the United States. By the wind sailors are commonly seen scattered about the sands of Stinson Beach during the late spring and early summer, and along the west coast as far north as Washington State, when especially strong winds can cast counteless numbers of these ill-fated critters ashore.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s SIMoN website:

Velella velella is incredibly stabile and seaworthy by design. The sail is triangular, slightly thicker at its base, stiffened by superficial thickened ridges, and yet still quite flexible. This incredible design allows smooth bending when its sail is under load, recoiling when the wind lets up, and overall minimizes the risk of kinking. The whole animal tilts when under sail, hull broadside to the flow of oncoming water.

Velella velella drifts before the wind, almost always tacking about 45 degrees to the right of the prevailing northwesterlies. This is normally enough to keep them offshore, however southerly or extremely strong onshore winds can cause them to spin around and follow the wind at a much closer angle that brings them toward land. Once washed ashore, the animals die and disintegrate within a few days.

And here’s a little something extra for your next beach/trivia party! According to Oregon State University: The sail is set diagonally to the long axis of the animal. On our side of the north Pacific Ocean, their sails are set in a northwest to southeast direction. On the other side of the north Pacific, the sails are set in a northeast to southwest direction. In the southern hemisphere, sails are reversed.”

Apparently, 2014 has been a bang-up year for the beaching of these remarkable, translucent, ocean-going creatures. Stories of mass sightings abound.

Here are a couple more helpful links in case you’d like to learn more about the (often hyphenated) by-the-wind sailor.

Bay Nature.org

National Geographic.com

Serenity, Sand and (yes) Sharks of Stinson Beach (Stinson Beach)

~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Summery Day on the South County Shore

Posted by E.G.D. on July 22, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Robyn Waayers: 

Gary and I took a little trip yesterday to explore the beach just north of Imperial Beach and south of Silver Strand State Beach. A lot of organic material had washed ashore, including masses of California Mussels, as well as much kelp.

Mussel mass with surf grass

Mussel mass with surf grass

Some of the mussels had Leaf Barnacles attached.

California Mussel with Leaf Barnacles

California Mussel with Leaf Barnacles

This is a beach popular with clammers due to its concentration of Pismo Clams. What I presumed to be immature clam shells were here and there on the shore.

A small clam - about 30 mm in length

A small clam – about 30 mm in length

 

A larger specimen, but nowhere near the final adult size!

A larger specimen, but nowhere near the final adult size!

Most of the shells on this beach are heavily wave-worn, like this Chestnut Cowrie.

Chestnut Cowrie, after much rolling around in the sand and surf

Chestnut Cowrie, after much rolling around in the sand and surf

The beach was surprisingly bird-filled, with Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Forster’s Terns being present in numbers (the Forster’s Terns in large numbers as they fished in the huge anchovy schools off shore). We also saw the occasional Royal Tern in full breeding plumage. A lone Long-billed Curlew graced the beach and we saw several more in the Tijuana Estuary area later.

Long-billed Curlew, with the Silver Strand and downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge, visible in the background

Long-billed Curlew, with the Silver Strand and downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge, visible in the background

We saw easily over a half dozen Snowy Plovers skulking in the higher, drier portions of the beach as well. Signs discourage people or dogs from walking in their territory, but no fences exist, as we saw in Oregon last month for the protection of this species. The plovers are extremely well camouflaged, and tend to move in short bursts of activity, as opposed to just meandering around as the Willets do.

Snowy Plover standing at the edge of a tire track!

Snowy Plover standing at the edge of a tire track!

We also saw a merganser hanging around the edge of the water, and occasionally entering the shallows. A scoter (probably a Surf Scoter) was seen fishing in the shallows, as well.

Scoter in shallow water.

Scoter in shallow water.

About the author: Robyn Waayers has lived in San Diego since 1977, and teaches biology at three local community colleges. In her spare time, she is a lover of all­ things ­natural­ history, roaming the region with her camera and an eye for new things. Her website is Shoreline Ramblings, to which she has also posted this articleAll photographs are the property of Robyn Waayers.

~~~

Posted in Beach Birding, Featured Guest Writer, Pacific Coast Beaches, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

One Perfect Cold, Rainy, and Windy Day at the Beach!

Posted by Jody on March 29, 2014

Welcome to Padre Island National Seashore

Welcome to Padre Island National Seashore

Cold, rainy, and very windy! That’s how the day unfolded on our recent visit to Padre Island National Seashore, “the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.” You can probably guess what we did! Our family simply layered up, snapped together our raincoats, and went on a lovely morning walk along the park’s Malaquite Beach with Ranger Lee (who, by the way, didn’t even wear a jacket). He was way tougher than we were!

Entrance to Malaquite Beach

Entrance to Malaquite Beach

One of the first things we noticed was that picnickers had left their trash behind at the picnic tables. Seriously? We had our family-requisite handy dandy extra bags in our backpacks so we pitched in and helped clean up. You’ll see one of the full bags in Ranger Lee’s hand. FYI: The Visitor Center hands out free bags so folks can pack out anything they bring into the park and/or pitch in with collecting seaborne trash.

The National Park Service explains: “Padre Island’s location in the northwest corner means that the southeasterly winds prevailing in the Gulf blow many objects, both natural and artificial, onto its shore as well as creating longshore currents which can bring much material for good or bad. Probably the most serious damage to the National Seashore’s environment is done by trash, which washes onto the beaches from offshore. The trash comes from a variety of sources including the shrimping industry, offshore natural gas platforms, and washing out of rivers and streams surrounding the Gulf. Much of the trash is either plastic or styrofoam.”

Our Morning Walk with Ranger Lee

Our Morning Walk with Ranger Lee

I was a bit concerned about getting blowing sand and salt mist on (and in) my camera, but I did try to capture some of the most interesting seashore treasures the Gulf of Mexico tosses ashore along this wild and unique 70 miles of South Texas coastline.

Here are just a few of the interesting sights and beach treasures we found:

Animal tracks ~

Dunes Covered with Tracks

Dunes Covered with Tracks

Pocket Gopher Tracks

Pocket Gopher Tracks

A rainbow colored selection of  Coquina Clam (Donax variabilis) seashells ~

Coquina Clams

Coquina Clams

Squadrons of Eastern Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentali) gliding over the surf ~

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

Black Drum (Pogonias cromis) skull bone ~

Skull of a Black Drum

Skull of a Black Drum

Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata) hole ~

Ghost Crab Hole

Ghost Crab Hole

This next example causes quite a stir, much debate, and even some consternation amongst the seashore’s visitors. Is it a shoelace? Is it pieces of fishing net? Some sort of rope wrapped wire?

No, no, and no. It’s Sea Whip coral!

Sea Whip Coral

Sea Whip Coral

Here are a couple of bone remnants from Hardhead catfish (Ariopsis felis) along with bits of Sea Whip coral and rope ~

Remains of Hardhead Catfish with Sea Whip Coral

Remains of Hardhead Catfish with Sea Whip Coral and Rope

The kicker: The other side of the catfish bones look like this. It’s why the Hardhead catfish is also called the Crucifix fish!

Hardhead Catfish Remains

Hardhead Catfish Remains

So many miles of beach, so little time to explore!

70 Miles of Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

70 Miles of Beach to Discover at Padre Island National Seashore

Now for a cup of hot cocoa (with five little marshmallows)! Care to join us?

~~~

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Hermit Crab: A Different Kind of Beachcomber!

Posted by Jody on February 4, 2014

Whether you’ve been tidepooling, beachcombing or have simply enjoyed a leisurely stroll on the sand, you have probably come upon a hermit crab or two! Hermit crabs are abundant in tidepools and along the seashore. They can be found living in abandoned marine snail (gastropod) shells and, less commonly, in other hollow objects (e.g., coral, rock or wood).

Look closely! Do you see the legs of the hermit crabs scooting around in this LaJolla tidepool?

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Cool, huh?

Animal Planet states, “Unlike true crabs, hermit crabs have soft, vulnerable abdomens. For protection from predators, many hermit crabs seek out abandoned shells, usually snail shells. When a hermit crab finds one of the proper size, it pulls itself inside, leaving several legs and its head outside the shell. (A hermit crab has five pairs of legs, but not all of them are fully developed.) A hermit crab carries the shell wherever it goes. When it outgrows its shell, it switches to a larger one. Most adult hermit crabs are from 1/2 inch (13 mm) to 4 3/4 inches (121 mm) long. Living on the seashore, in tidepools, and on the sea bottom in deeper water, hermit crabs scavenge their food.”

Liam's find is a hermit crab's home!

Liam’s find is a hermit crab’s home!

According to a Marine Parks Western Australia webpage, the biggest threat to hermit crabs is people!

1) While beach goers are often searching for the most beautiful seashells to carry home, they might also accidentally collect the little shore critters who have carefully selected the same shells as their beachfront condos! One hermit crab’s home, in turn, unintentionally becomes a beachcomber’s “beach treasure.”  Hermit crabs are amazingly good at hiding inside their shells to protect themselves from discovery. Before we put those seashells in our brightly colored plastic pails, we really should inspect each shell very carefully for signs of a resident hermit crab.  When our 5 year old grandson, Liam, found an absolutely gorgeous moon snail shell on a beach near Galveston Island, TX, we didn’t see a little hermit crab inside. Then we did. Then we didn’t!! Hermit crabs are very clever and quite skillful at stealing themselves away in their homes.

2) It’s no surprise that the prized larger seashells are favored by shell collectors. This sometimes leaves slim pickings for growing, house hunting hermit crabs. *This is one very practical reason that beaches sometimes have collection limits for unoccupied seashells of 1 gallon, 5 gallons, etc. per person.*

3) Other hermit crabs are taken home deliberately to become pets. *It’s important to remember that live collection of  shore life is prohibited on many beaches!* Marine Parks WA reminds us: “Hermit crabs make popular pets, but you should never ever take one from the wild. They should remain in its natural habitat to form an important part of the marine food chain and, if removed, are likely to die within days in any case.”

Alaskan Hermit Crab (Photo: Jan Haaga, PD-USGov-NOAA)

Related beachcombing posts: Tidepool Etiquette 101

Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Beachcombers Beware ~ Regulation Variation at National Seashores

Happy beachcombing to you and to our little ten-legged seashore friends!

~~~

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

A GHOST CRAB’S DAY AT THE SEASIDE AT DELPHI, ABACO

Posted by Jody on February 1, 2014

Jody:

It’s just another gorgeous day at the beach for this little critter!

Originally posted on ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO:

Crab, Delphi Club Beach, Abaco

A GHOST CRAB’S DAY AT THE SEASIDE AT DELPHI, ABACO

Crabby the Crab lived amongst the greenery at the very back of the Delphi Club BeachGhost Crab Delphi Beach 1

It was a very beautiful beach indeed. Lucky Crabby!Delphi Beach + Shell

One day Crabby decided to go down to the sea for a swimGhost Crab Delphi Beach 2

He scuttled across the sand towards the sound of the wavesGhost Crab Delphi Beach 3

He passed the burrow of his friend Sandy. Sandy was very busy tidying his house.Ghost Crab Delphi Beach 4

“Would you like to come for a paddle?” asked Crabby. “No thanks”, said Sandy, “I’m busy today”Ghost Crab Delphi Beach 5

So Crabby carried on towards the water’s edge. He got closer, to where the sand was wet…Ghost Crab Delphi Beach 6

…and closer, to where the water tickled his toes…Ghost Crab Delphi Beach 7

…and closer, to where the tide ripples reached.  Crabby waved his claws with excitementGhost Crab Delphi Beach 8

Finally, he was paddling in the warm water. It was just perfect. Whoops! Don’t fall in, Crabby!Ghost Crab Delphi Beach 9

Very soon…

View original 60 more words

Posted in Atlantic Coast Beaches, Beach and Coastal Wildlife | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Indian River Lagoon

Posted by E.G.D. on November 15, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Doug Raymond:

While talking about Florida’s beautiful beaches, we can’t overlook one of nature’s coastal treasures, the Indian River Lagoon. It is home to many species of plants and animals, including sea turtles and manatees. Visitors and residents alike should take a few hours to drive the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway and stop to enjoy its majestic beauty.

Indian River Lagoon (photo by Doug Raymond)

Indian River Lagoon (photo by Doug Raymond)

What is a Lagoon?

A lagoon is a shallow body of water that is separated from the ocean by islands that parallel the shoreline. Small inlets allow water to come in and out of the lagoon. There are three different types of lagoons called leaky, chokes, and restricted. The Indian River Lagoon is a restricted lagoon which means that it has multiple channels to the ocean and a good circulation of water coming in and out.

Plants in the Indian River Lagoon

According to the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce website, “the lagoon’s habitats support more than 3,500 documented species of animals, plants, fungi and protists.” The Sea Rosemary and the Caribbean Apple Cactus are just two of the many endangered plant species that are able to thrive in this habitat. Other plants in the estuary include mosses, a variety of ferns, and many types of grasses. There is ample opportunity to take pictures while you enjoy the simple beauty of the plants, and you can enjoy their unique aromas when visiting the lagoon.

Animals Living in the Lagoon

Favorite residents of the lagoon are the playful dolphins and majestic manatees that inhabit the area. Hundreds of bottle-nose dolphins from various dolphin communities call this place home. Sea turtles, many different lizards, and the endangered American Alligator are just a few of the reptilian residents at Indian River Lagoon. Sharks, sting rays, and otters reside here too. You may even spot a black bear. It is home to many animals, including both those that are endangered and those with thriving populations. The lagoon provides a specific and unique environment.

Florida's Abundant Wildlife

Florida’s Abundant Coastal Wildlife

Enhancing the Space Coast Lifestyle

 If you love the outdoors and ocean life, then you will love the Indian River Lagoon. All east Florida residents should take the opportunity to visit this estuary. Although it is beautiful and provides a home to many animals, it is fragile and sees the occasional threat like plant overgrowth.  It can also sometimes suffer from pollution. It is important to enjoy nature’s treasure, but also to keep in mind that it must be respected. If you’re just a visitor, or one of the lucky people who get to call Florida home, don’t miss out on this gem.

About the author: Doug Raymond grew up in Idaho, and has worked in and around home construction and real estate for most of his life. He is interested in home building, construction, architecture, interior design, landscaping, green living, writing, blogging, internet marketing, sports, and the outdoors.

~~~

A note from our treasure hunters:

We simply love to share when it comes to beaches, treasure hunting, beachcombing crafts, and beachy tips. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach you’d like to share with us? Maybe you have some great tips for beach picnics, seaside safety, or seashore activities. Please check out our Submission Guidelines for info on jumping into the fun at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches.  You may be our next Featured Guest Writer!

Posted in Atlantic Coast Beaches, Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Featured Guest Writer | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Posted by Jody on October 17, 2013

Do you know what (if any) seashells and critters you are allowed to bring home from the shore? Times are changing! Many municipalities now have rules and shelling regulations regarding what beachcombers are allowed to collect. Every now and then these ordinances are passed with the intention of preserving the delicate coastal ecosystem. In some places a violation of existing shelling regulations can result in a stiff fine and even jail time!

Can you bring me home?

Is there a resident hermit crab inside? Maybe!

Tybee Island, Georgia, passed a law in 2011 against the collection of living sea creatures. Animals protected by the new beachcombing law include live sea stars (aka: star fish), sand dollars, and hermit crabs. It’s important to know that hermit crabs can be pretty tricky critters! You may have to inspect a seashell more than once to be absolutely certain it’s empty.

According to the 2011 Tybee Island shelling regulation: beachcombers’ take home treasures can still include empty shells and nonliving animals.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar

If you are lucky enough to find a sand dollar, here’s a simple way to tell if it is still living. Examine it to see if it’s tiny, fuzz-like hairs (cilia) are moving. You may turn the sand dollar over and touch it very gently with your finger to check. If it is still alive you’ll surely want to gently place it (bottom side down) back in calmer water, on the sand. Seriously, hurling live sea creatures back into the ocean is never a good idea!

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

On Sanibel Island, Florida (widely recognized as the best shelling beach in the United States) it has been illegal to collect live specimens since January 1, 1995. According to The City of Sanibel website, MySanibel.com: “All Sanibel beaches and nearshore waters to one-half mile from shore are protected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Rule 46-26.” This shelling regulation established a complete ban on the collection of live shells. The remainder of Lee County, Florida followed suit on March 1, 2002. Sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins are also protected.

The Town of Hilton Head, South Carolina shelling regulation prohibits “Removal, harming, or harassment of any live beach fauna (sea turtles, sand dollars, conchs, starfish, etc.)”

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Oftentimes, an official permit is mandatory for live collecting. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission declares: “A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license (resident or non-resident, whichever is applicable) is required in order to harvest a sea shell containing a living organism, even when harvesting from shore.” 

Before heading to the beach for a fun-filled day of treasure hunting, beachcombers would be wise to check for the most up-to-date local beachcombing regulations. Wildlife refuges, conservancies, national and state parks, counties, cities, and states could all have differing rules for the types of seashells and sea life that may be removed from the beach! Occasionally they conflict. And in some instances, all shelling and collecting is prohibited. We always play it safe and go with the strictest of the rules and regs. That’s one way to keep those hard earned vacation dollars in our pockets!

~~~ It’s that important to know before you go! ~~~

We’d really like to hear about the shelling regulations on your favorite beach. Please feel free to share!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Morro Bay, California – Sea Stars, Sand Dollars & Surfers

Posted by Jody on October 15, 2013

We just love returning to the beaches of Morro Bay, California. Nestled on the Pacific Ocean about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay is home to one of the most fascinating coastal environments you’ll find anywhere.

Sea Star, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)

Our family loves exploring the tide pools near “El Morro” (aka: Morro Rock). We’re never disappointed with the rich variety of marine life we find near the rocky breakwater.

Heading out to explore the tide pools in almost any weather is well worth the time and energy. You’ll be so glad you did. Keep your eyes open! You’ll have to look under and around rocks to spot the beautifully colored sea stars and sea anemones. Smaller crabs will scurry into the riprap, waving and drumming their pincers to warn you off. It’s a really cool sound (Don’t worry about embarrassing them, though – they never seem put off that you’re laughing at their bravado)! The larger crabs won’t pay you any mind at all. Years ago, Greg and I even came across a young seal resting on the sand. That was a real bonus!

The Crab Who Didn’t Care, Morro Bay, California (Photo by Jody Diehl)

On the way back toward town, check out the bay side water to see if you can catch a glimpse of the very entertaining otters.

If bird watching is your jive, the Morro Bay area is home to over 250 species of birds (including peregrine falcons), a fact that this quaint fishing village celebrates each year with the Winter Bird Festival weekend.

Beach and coastal activities are numerous in Morro Bay. If you check out the beach to the north of Morro Rock, you’ll inevitably find surfers, even if they’re just hanging out waiting for the next set of waves. This strand is also where a bounty of sand dollars can be found (be careful not to collect the live ones).

If you look to the south of Morro Rock toward the placid waters of the protected bay, you’ll see kayaks gliding amongst the moored sail boats.

Kayak in Morro Bay, California (©Jody Diehl)

It always seems to be a bit misty when we’re visiting Morro Bay, and mornings can be pretty nippy out on the water. You might want to wear layers and bring along rain gear, just in case. Your sturdy beach-trekkers will be perfect for climbing over the uneven rocks around the tide pools.

Where is your favorite tide pooling spot? We’d love to hear about it!

~~~

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Northern California Beaches, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Silverknowes Beach on the Firth of Forth

Posted by Jody on September 10, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is “imagineer.”

Silverknowes is one of the many beaches on the Firth of Forth and is just north of Edinburgh in Scotland. Sunny days at Silverknowes are to be treasured so I took a short trip to enjoy the fantastic views.

Cramond

Cramond

The is a view from the Cramond end of the beach and shows one of the many islands in the River Forth. This one can be accessed when the tide is out but people are frequently caught out by the speed of the returning tide and have to be rescued. In the distance is Fife, the other side of the Firth of Forth. The river is used by all sorts of ships, from cruise liners to submarines. It was a very industrialised river but today sea life is recovering and the legacy of industrial pollution is in the past.

Whale Rescue

Whale Rescue

The beach can be busy but today was a very unusual day because there was a whale rescue in progress and a crowd gathered to watch. There are all sorts of animals and birds that live in and pass through the Forth. The beach starts at Cramond where the River Almond meets the Forth. There are lots of walks from the Cramond end and it has a café for refreshments when you return. The beach is approximately one mile long but there are other paths that can be taken into Edinburgh if you want to venture farther.

Dog Play

Dog Play

Dogs love to play in the water even though they go home covered in sand and salt water. I think the dogs enjoy the beach even more than the people. I took a few pictures of this pair as they were such fun to watch and put them on my blog:  “Happiness Is Dog Shaped.”

Holding On

Holding On

The rescue party stood for hours in the cold water helping the whale breathe. At least the rescuers could see the beautiful scenery all around. The beach extends to the island when the tide is out, but when you reach the island the water becomes very deep.

Night

Night

I’ve included this shot to show how the same location looks at night time.

***
~Please visit Featured Guest Writer “imagineer” at imaginations /caught by the eye of mankind.~

A note from our treasure hunters:

We simply love to share when it comes to beaches, treasure hunting, beachcombing crafts, and beachy tips. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach you’d like to share with us? Maybe you have some great tips for beach picnics, seaside safety, or seashore activities. Please check out our Submission Guidelines for info on jumping into the fun at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches.  You may be our next Featured Guest Writer!

Posted in Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Featured Guest Writer, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Beach Bird Watching (Looking into Looking Up)

Posted by E.G.D. on July 19, 2013

I was reading an article this morning about bird photography on the coast of Marco Island.  Apparently, at the island’s Tigertail Beach, that sort of thing is a serious spectator sport, in that not only did the journalist seem to be watching the birds, he seemed to be watching the photographers, and he seemed to expect his readers to be as interested in the photographers as in the birds.  He talked about the photographers and camera equipment, in fact, significantly more than he talked about the birds.  This makes journalistic sense, in that the article was published in the Marco Eagle, Marco’s local newspaper.

This brings me, in a roundabout way, to my point.  It seems to me that most beach-goers who are not bird photographers or birdwatchers are unlikely to go to the beach to seek out interesting avian life.  We flock to boat tours for whale watching, or dolphin spotting.  We squeal like children when we spot a sea turtle.  We go snorkeling or scuba diving to see interesting fish.  We brave the natural smelliness of seals to see them basking in the sun.  Is it just me, or do we spend most of our wildlife energy on the beaches in looking down?

I’m a sheller.  I’ll admit, I’m guilty as charged!

Beach Birding on the Texas Gulf Coast

Beach Birding on the Texas Gulf Coast

Why don’t we, for the sake of shaking up our usual beach routines, spend a little time enjoying the wildlife that occasionally goes up?  For those of you who are interested, here is a series of fun links concerning beach bird watching all over the U.S. :

Birding the Great Lakes Beaches (Tundra Swans, Bald Eagles and many more!):

Bird Watching at Waukegan Municipal Beach

Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Birding areas in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Birding the East Coast:

Birding Assateague Island National Seashore(Funny thing, I’ve actually been to this area, and I don’t remember a single bird.  Not because the birds weren’t there, but because I wasn’t looking!)

Space Coast Birding

Pacific Coast Beach Birding - Santa Cruz, California

West Coast Beach Birding – Santa Cruz, California

Birding the West Coast:

The Bird Guide (there are some good links on this site for the Pacific Northwest coast)

Focus on Birds

Bird Watching in San Diego

Birding Hawaii’s Shores:

Hawaiian Audobon

Gulf Of Mexico Beach Birding:

Alabama Gulf Coastal Birding Trail

Birds of the Upper Texas Coast

Cool, huh?  I’ve been looking up things to look up at all morning, and actually, most of them seem to spend quite a lot of their time wading.  Still, aren’t they fun?  Enjoy! -E.G.D.

~~~ Originally published Jul 27, 2011 ~~~

Please feel free to share your coastal bird watching experiences and/or your favorite beach birding site!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Beaches of North America, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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