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Archive for the ‘Beaches of North America’ Category

Celebrating Labor Day USA

Posted by Jody on September 1, 2014

Celebrating Labor Day

Celebrating Labor Day

“The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.”

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

~~~

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Posted in Pacific Coast Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

♬ Above the Blue and Windy Sea 🎶

Posted by Jody on August 26, 2014

“There’s a beach in San Francisco?” We get that a lot! In fact, it’s only a very short jaunt from Fisherman’s Wharf to this popular stretch of sand! Simply head east on Jefferson Street, and you’ll find Aquatic Park Historic Cove and the exceptional city-side Aquatic Park beach.

This entire area is part of the National Park Service’s San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Lots of  words…even more fun!

Here you can bike, run, swim, paddle board, play in the sand, or just watch the world go by:

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The next time you’re in the City by the Bay, you can use this handy National Park Service site to help plan your visit to San Francisco’s Aquatic Park Cove beach: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. And you’ll, too, be singing ~ “I Left My Heart in San Francisco. High on a hill, it calls to me…”

🎶 “My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me”♬

 “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” by George Cory and Douglass Cross

~~~

Posted in Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Orange Beach is Golden!

Posted by alainaflute on August 5, 2014

Flip Flop Parking Lot

Flip Flop Parking Lot

After last year’s National Flute Association convention in New Orleans, Mom (Jody) and I traveled east along the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana through three more states: Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. On our coastal driveabout, we saw beautiful white sand beaches, tumbled shells, great blue herons, and surfers. I expressed shock and glee simultaneously at my first jellyfish sighting (my mom was less than impressed).

We made Orange Beach, Alabama our home base. Our hotel was right on the beach, and we took in the refreshing sea breezes from our balcony. We ate breakfast on the sun deck and kicked off our sandals at the flip flop “parking lot.” The beach was as long as any I’ve ever seen. To be honest, I had no idea how wonderful those gulf beaches could be! The sugar-white sand squeaks under foot and goes on for miles and miles (really, we just set a time limit for our turn-around because the beach just kept on keeping on).

Here’s a look at our golden day on the white sands of Orange Beach:

Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through.

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

On a Summer’s Day

Posted by Jody on July 13, 2014

 

Rest is Not Idleness

Rest is Not Idleness

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day,

listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time”

~Sir John Lubbock, The Use of Life

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 11 Comments »

It’s National Clean Beaches Week!

Posted by Jody on July 5, 2014

Feeling the Love on Harrison County Sand Beach, Mississippi

Feeling the Love on Harrison County Sand Beach, Mississippi

Celebrated annually (July 1-7) as the “Earth Day” for beaches, National Clean Beaches Week is a friendly reminder that the planet’s shorelines deserve a little tender loving care. The Clean Beaches Coalition leads the way with a “network of coastal organizations and individuals committed to promoting clean, healthy and well managed beaches around the world.” Who doesn’t think that’s a great idea!?

Here’s our very own up close and personal look at why our beaches need to feel the love too:

Yep!

Yep!

Not really feeling the love!
Not feeling the love!
Still not feeling the love...
Still not feeling the love…

 ~~~

OK, so now I'm feeling the love!
OK, so now I’m feeling the love!

~~~

The Clean Beaches Coalition (CBC) certifies deserving beaches as “Blue Wave.” Blue Wave Beaches are accredited according to their active participation in embracing and promoting the “7 Blue Wave Ethics.”

They are:
1. Leave no trace
2. Move your body
3. Don’t tread the dunes
4. Know your limits
5. You are what you eat
6. Feed your mind
7. Respect the ocean

Is your favorite beach a Blue Wave Beach? Or perhaps it has a different certification? We’d love to hear about it!

Rockport's Blue Wave Beach (Texas)

Rockport’s Blue Wave Beach (Texas)

~~~

Helpful links:

Blue Wave Beach Certification

Harrison County Sand Beach, Mississippi (Photo #1)

Rockport, Texas  ~Texas’ First Certified Blue Wave Beach~ (Photo #6)

 

 

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Most of the Way to LA: McFaddin Beach

Posted by E.G.D. on June 17, 2014

Beautiful Day at McFaddin Beach (Photo by E. G. D.)

Beautiful Day at McFaddin Beach (Photo by E.G.D.)

The Sign (Photo by E.G.D.)

The Sign (Photo by E.G.D.)

The other day, one of my many jobs sent me to Nederland, TX, which is about two hours east of the part of Houston in which I live. I needed to be in Nederland for a grand total of two and a half hours. Crazy, right? I drove a total of four hours for a job that lasted fewer than three! Suffice it to say, I felt the need to justify all that driving with a bit of fun, and I wound up driving an extra 20 minutes east so that I could visit McFaddin Beach (and I highly recommend you click that link, because the article is EXTREMELY worthy of note, especially if you are interested in finding fossils on a beach). McFaddin Beach, also known as the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, was on fire last time I passed it by. Mom (known more commonly here as Jody) and I tried to visit Sea Rim State Park on our way to Louisiana last summer, and we didn’t make it very far because there was an extremely smoky brush fire raging there. McFaddin is immediately past Sea Rim State Park on the same road, and I am happy to report that it was absolutely fire-free this time around.

High Tide (Photo by E.G.D.)

High Tide (Photo by E.G.D.)

In fact, I had the great good fortune to enjoy it on a truly beautiful day! I was at first disappointed that I arrived at high tide (the water was all the way up to the knee-high, three-yard-wide pile of seaweed that separates the parking area from the water), but over the course of the two or three hours I wandered there, the tide receded somewhat, and I found a startling array of truly remarkable shells! I found no fewer than nine whole and completely undamaged angel wings, two brightly colored and unoccupied shark-eye snail shells, and some very nice whelk pieces, among other things. I even found a very nice piece of green sea glass.

While I wandered, I passed kids playing in the silt, a good number of adults wading, swimming, and sun bathing, and an older gentleman searching the beach with his metal detector. I watched whole flying and floating flocks of some sort of very large bird I never managed to identify. I discovered a weathered coconut, looking rather lonely and a bit out of place on a Texas beach. I startled a few ghost crabs back into their holes, and I returned a couple of beached, live snails to the water (those were actually before I discovered the two unoccupied shells). I will say, though, that I did not pass anything at all along the lines of bathroom facilities, showers, or lifeguard towers. If you plan to visit McFaddin beach (and if you happen to be anywhere near Port Arthur, you really should), bring a jug of water to rinse your feet off and go to the bathroom before leaving town! While you’re at it, I recommend that you pack a picnic, sun block, a hat, and an extra large bag in which to stow your shelling treasures. You’re in for a fun and productive day at the beach!

Anyone Know What These Birds Are? (Photo by E.G.D.)

Anyone Know What These Birds Are? (Photo by E.G.D.)

Treasures (Photo by E.G.D.)

Treasures (Photo by E.G.D.)

Fun stuff!  Have a great day, hopefully at the beach. -E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted by Jody on June 15, 2014

Rockport, Texas

Rockport, Texas

Anyone who tells you fatherhood is the greatest thing that can happen to you, they are understating it.

Mike Myers
~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Posted by Jody on June 10, 2014

Calico Scallops

Calico Scallops

It’s easy to see why these beautiful bivalves are the seashell collector’s dream. Each and every Calico Scallop (Argopecten gibbus) is a colorful, unique, and fun-filled piece of eye candy! They can be found in variations of pink, white, orange, brown, purple. Keeping only one is virtually impossible for even the most tried and true beachcomber! Commonly found on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, they range from Delaware Bay to Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, and south to much of the Caribbean Sea.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

These variegated seashells are especially plentiful and very easy to find undamaged on Florida’s sandy Gulf Coast beaches. The color-splashed Calico Scallops in this collection all hail from the world-renowned shelling beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Growing up to 2 1/2 inches across, Calico Scallops are almost circular in shape and very easy to identify. These seashells have about 20 strong, well defined, smooth (non-scaly) ribs. Look for each shell’s “ears” to be about equal in size.

Seriously, who wouldn’t be tickled pink to have a basket full of these picture perfect beach treasures in their collection?

Happy Beachcombing!

~~~

Related links:

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

The Sanibel Shell Guide

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Christmas with Sanibel Style

~~~

 

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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