SANDDOLLARS IN THE DEAD OF WINTER?
Now that we are into February, we had a short January thaw! It didn't amount to much, but unsanded roads are icy and hiking is a bit difficult. I lost my snow men that had been made with the chunks of ice left by the last plowing. I also used some slabs of ice to make hat brims. It was interesting to watch these creations change into unintended figures. Now they are gone until the next snow storm. The elephant design was made by natural melting, and what do you think of the balancing act on the right?!

We've been experiencing the beauty of a full moon and its accompanying impact on tidal waters. The tides have been -1.5 for the last few days. Needless to say, I have been out there to see what sealife is left by the unusual exposure. I made my way over to the southern areas of Totman Cove and was amazed at the number of live Sanddollars I could find. I started counting and reached over two dozen. Then, I looked in the shallow water at the edge of the sand and there were many more. Oddly enough, the dead ones don't wash into the cove but I did find some that lacked the small spines of the live ones. I love finding how those stranded try to dig under sand or reach the salt water. I was also intrigued by the slight difference in coloration. Those under the water, also had distinct five lined stars on their surface. I did pick up a few live ones and dropped them off at the local school which has a salt water aquarium. The kids should get a charge out of the sanddollars, though they are not as exciting or belligerent as the Hermit Crabs! The picture to the left shows the proximity of these animals under a few inches of water. That looks like an oak leaf and a single strand of eel grass, also in the picture.

I found two crabs that had dug under the sand to prevent being frozen when exposed. Of course there were clam holes inviting my digging, but I lacked the proper tools. Digging by hand in these freezing elements leaves something to be desired. In the cove, a group of cackling geese were talking to one another. By the way, do you remember what animal eat sanddollars? They sure look like cookies, but they are consumed by flounder when they are very small. I once was filleting a flounder and accidentally punctured its stomach and out popped tiny sanddollars! Of course these fish are bottom feeders, and they must just scoop them up in their one sided lips! Oh how I miss the taste of flounder! We used to readily catch them. Now, I only hear of a few lucky souls who have speared them while snorkeling !

2/10/09 Februaryized Ronnie