THE STRAND LINE: Weekly News of Nature on Hermit Island
This last regular week of summer camping was highlighted by anxiety over the path of Hurricane Earl. The waters were already stirred up by Danielle, which made snorkeling and tidepooling difficult. Our trip to Starfish Cave was a near washout since the waves, even at low tide, were gushing in and out of the cave. We were only able to count 5 live Sea Stars in all the turbulence. We satisfied ourselves by building Sea Stars, Turtles and Crabs out of the rocks nearby. I doubt if these creations are still there since the sea got even more stirred up with the effects of Earl.

In the picture to the left, you can see the surf on Sanddune Beach. We scouted the shoreline of Joe's Head and picked up enough Jonah and Red Rock Crab shells to make this Joe's Head sign. All of the shells were evidence of gulls dining on those crustaceans. Today, the shoreline was so rough that gulls were raiding food left unattended by beach goers.

Earlier in the week, we found an assortment of sealife at Bounty Cove, including Sea Stars. This camper decided to feel their tubefeet as these animals made their way along his arm. All were gratefully returned to their home on the rocks. One very intriguing find at Bounty Cove was a beautiful spider caught in a sand trap. It somehow landed in the soft sand and couldn't escape, leaving interesting trails. This spider is a Black and Yellow Argiope. I believe this one to be a female with the large abdomen probably filled with eggs. They are great orb web builders which they weave to catch insects for meals. I am always intrigued by the pattern on their abdomen. It is almost as if an artist painted the design. You may remember that spiders have two body parts: the cephalothorax made up of a fused head and thorax and an abdomen. In this spider, the cephalothorax is covered with silvery hairs, almost the same color as the sand. You may also notice the eight legs have bands of color. We used that stick to carry it away from its sand trap. 9/5/10 Ronnie, communicating with Earl and others!