OUT LIKE A LION, IN LIKE A LAMB.........Remember those waves I recorded last week? Here are words to describe that storm: fierce, foaming, fluid, crashing, cresting, cascading, spraying, sucking, slithering, sparkling, uncontrollable, merciless, unrelenting, wild, writhing, windswept, drenching.
November has come in like a lamb. The shoreline surf is minimal, and calm has returned. You could describe it as smooth, peaceful, shimmering, placid, calm, anger subsided. All this week, there has been interesting beach debris, but mostly shell remnants and sea weeds torn from their holdfasts. But by the weekend, the extreme, full moon tides gave me a chance to confirm those marine animals had survived. Yesterday, I walked the length of Head Beach at the lowest tide with only gulls for company as they dined on Surf Clams. Over near Joe's Head, I dug my own clams to take home for dinner. There were more than enough. These are the clams that normally live subtidal. Each is equipped with a powerful digging foot to dig down below bellowing waves and porous sand. I also uncovered hunkered down crabs, worms and Hermit Crabs - all having dug to escape the cold. Now is when I know the seasons have changed. I had no gloves and my hands nearly froze! Why aren't the animals so affected? On the exposed rocks, I had no trouble finding crabs, urchins, lobster juveniles, Rock Eels,and even a Brittle Star! I kept thinking that the rocks had been turned over and left that way. We always try to return rocks to their original positions to maintain the habitat. Then, I remembered that surf. No doubt the rocks had been repositioned naturally with the abundance of pink calcified algae coating the exposed surfaces. I saw little evidence of animals affected by that storm. Amazing.
On the right, is a picture of what led me to the hidden Surf Clams. If the sand were drier, there would be distinct holes, sometimes with squirt patterns in the sand. Occasionally, the mound of sand would reveal a crab safe from exposure to air and cold. After digging with frozen fingers (a clam rake would have helped!), here are the clams from those holes. They have withdrawn their foot, but given time, would try to use them to dig again. I placed a Sea Star I picked off the rocks on one clam. Remember how the clam may react to its presence? The clam will detect this predator and use that foot to jump away! These clams are not only good for chowder, but are very entertaining if given the chance.
One rather surprising find while exploring the hidden treasures under the exposed rocks, was a Green Crab loaded with orange eggs. Note how she carries them under her folded tail. Even in these cold waters, there is this sign of motherhood. She will carry them until they hatch into larval crabs. Even they must have survival capabilities to withstand these tumultuous waters.
To give you an idea of how low the tides were in the last two days, consider this. I was able to walk on the sand BELOW the rocks that separate the two sides of Sanddune Beach! Though I didn't try, I am sure I could have walked into the Bathtub from Sunset Lagoon. The low tides have been -1.5 in late afternoon. Here in Maine, we have finally had a hard frost. The floral gardens have succumbed, and only a few hardy veggies remain. Bring out the mittens and overcoats! 11/5/06 Ronnie the clammer.