The beach hunts have started! I felt compelled to check out the marine critters on the east side of Joe's Head, and was not disappointed. The tide was at its lowest, and Hermit Crabs were numerous and scrambling. If it were winter, these would be dug into holes in the sand if left stranded, or smart enough to remain sub-tidal. Now, they are everywhere. I turned over a couple of rocks, one of which exposed the creatures you see at the left side of this page. A small urchin and several small Sea Stars had been hiding. A Periwinkle cruises on the edge. This is the way to find these animals - lift the rocks or seaweed and find their hiding places. Always remember to replace the rock with the side exposed and animals underneath. You have to be careful not to crush the animals, placing a smaller rock underneath helps to give space for the animals' preservation.
A couple of hikers stopped to pursue a red claw visible under a large flat rock. We applied some muscle to lift the rock and used a net to see whose claw it belonged to. We pulled out two small lobsters that had sought refuge under the rock. These animals are capable of digging into soft, wet sand. Unfortunately, these lobsters were particularly vulnerable since both had lost claws! The smaller crustacean was in the process of growing a new one, but it was still soft and tiny - certainly not capable of using for food procurement or protection. It takes these lobsters about 7-8 years to reach maturity. As they grow, they shed their shells and missing parts are gradually replaced in the process. Needless to say, I carried these animals out to sea to find a safer hiding place. You can get an idea of how small they were by comparing them with the nearby surf clam.
Then, it was on to Sanddune Beach where campers were sunning and actually swimming! Kayaks were hauled out on the beach, or left high and dry by the outgoing tide. These were new kayaks that peddle with the feet, instead of being paddled by hand...something new to me. I watched as a creative duo pitched a ball, and tried to hit it with a driftwood bat! I wonder if David Ortiz (Big Papi) could hit a homer with that bat! One time, I remember seeing a hiker playing ball using a long handled lobster buoy for a bat. What else have you used in the absence of the real thing? Actually, this picture was taken on Head Beach, and you can see more animal hunters in the background exploring the rocks of Joe's Head.
As you can see, the sun has been shining and it looks like summer, and feels like it too! One final note regarding turtles. I was driving down to the campground and noticed a dead turtle in the road. I stopped even though I knew it was long gone. Female turtles, at this time of year, are leaving their wet habitat to lay eggs. Often their route for egg laying involved crossing a busy road. I have always thought, maybe I could retrieve the eggs and lay them myself (if they were not squashed). In this case, it was a Painted Turtle and her shell was cracked. Egg shells were apparent, but none was whole. It is just a thought that might assure the success of the egg laying, to check. In this case, a car not only removed an adult turtle from the environment, but at least four eggs that might have hatched and found their way back to the pond. I was too late to assist in their survival. 6/20/06 Turtle loving Ronnie