Friday, December 17, 2010

Warm again.....

After the frigid temps of earlier in the week, yesterday and today have been blissfully warm, with ample sun and no wind to speak of.  On a long beach walk yesterday I picked up the items in the photo which follows.  It has been my experience through 60+ years of shore walks to note that different days produce different "runs" of one sort or another of fauna.  One might go for weeks seeing not one sea pen, but yesterday the beach was littered with them.  Likewise, there was a substantial number of living Venus Clams with their clam bodies inside (these are a lovely salmon pink, by-the-way).  I was also fortunate to pick up two pieces of coral, which isn't usual on my Gulf beach.  I also saw a very long Parchment Tube Worm  (of course, I didn't have my camera, so see the photo   

Going clockwise (in my photo below), starting with the large pointed shell at the bottom left this is what I picked up:

1.   Half Naked Pen Shell - this one is a whole specimen with wonderful barnacles on both halves.

going up,

2.  Two more pen shells - one with it's pearly nacre glowing, and another smaller one with both halves intact.  Pen shells are incredibly thin (and are translucent) and are often found only as broken fragments.

3.  The feather is a glossy gray and might be from a sea gull.

Click on photo for a larger view.....

4. Just above it, and resting on the feather are two of the zillions of spiral fragments I am fascinated by.  If you came to my house, you would see these spiral fragments by the basket- and bowl-ful.  The colors are always so varied depending on the species of critter they are, the degree of damage done by sun, sand and sea.  Why these spiral intrigue me so I cannot say.

5.  At the tip of the feather is a hollow bone.  The book I use to identify beach finds, Florida's Living Beaches, says that this has a high probability of being a pigs knuckle.  They are used as bait in crab traps.  Since this bone is hollow, however, I wonder ........

6.  The two tube-like fragments are pieces of coral - the smaller piece is definitely Tube
coral - the other piece is so worn that this amateur can't classify it accurately.

7.  The little brown nub is an Australian Pine cone.  Australian Pines are a non-native species which were planted in the early to mid-20th Century as windbreaks all over Florida.  They are considered an invasive species and some folks would like to see every one cut down.  They really don't invade much, however (certainly nothing like Kudzu!!), and are useful  as windbreaks and to provide some shade when the sun is low in the sky.

Should have laid a ruler down so as to give an indication of size, but the little still-life is about 8 inches square.


  1. Man oh man this makes me miss my collections of 'beach stuff'!!! I sold or gave away lots before moving here to Colombia because it's against the law to bring it into the country so it's good to see your pictures...and to finally know what the proper names are. :)

  2. I am in love with those pen shells. I first picked one up when visiting Sanibel Island 5 years ago. they fascinated me then and they still do now! The rainbow of colors they can have is amazing. I have used them in my art!!
    : )) lenna

  3. What a lovely beach collection - thank you for explaining what everything is, I wouldn't have had a clue otherwise! The parchment tube worm isn't the most beautiful of God's creatures is it?!

    So glad to hear how blissfully warm you got it there - as I sit with 2 jumpers on warming my hands and feet in front of the stove!

  4. Thank you so much for your response. I'm finding this activity of blogging to be fun! No, the Parchment Tube Worm isn't very lovely. They look like a piece of rolled up waxy white paper that has been twisted and battered about by the waves and sand. Odd bits stick to the outside and when I see one my first thought is, "litter!" But then I realize what it is and leave it alone. Learning more about all the creatures I see in the natural world has always been of interest to me, and now, in retirement, I have more time to devote to beach combing.