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June 7, 2019

Last Sketchbook Page Before Vacation Ended

We learned lots about Sag Harbor during this vacation.  It was the Whaling port for Long Island during the height of the Whaling Industry in the 19th C.  Whale boats, for whale ships, were built there, and the men from the region could be gone for 1-3 years before returning with hundreds of barrels of whale oil.  I never read Moby Dick, but we saw the movie at the Sag Harbor Library, after visiting the Whaling Museum. It was a great education.  The last page in my sketchbook is of the Sag Harbor Historical Society Building.  This is a very active group that is preserving the heritage of this town.

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June 4, 2019

An Early Summer Vacation

Our vacation is almost over - 2 mile morning walks on the beach, cool weather, a town to explore, and old friends.  Shells were scarce, but we watched a big horseshoe crab walk very slowly across the sand and the others watched a small snake slither away.  I painted the house and the pool house where we are staying, and will always remember the afternoons spent drawing.

The House: 

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 The Pool House and Shed:

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May 31, 2019

Beach Treasures

These are a few of the treasures I picked up on our beach walks.  The channel whelk shell is a beautiful gray- blue and only about 3" long.  The Sand Dollar, the first one I ever found, is silver dollar size.   The Jingle was a nice mix of black and gold.  And I'm not sure what type of shell is striped and very tiny - 1/2".  But today we stopped at the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center, and the expert said it was a "smooth Astarte" shell.  I looked up images online, and it is!

Some days, some years, we find lots of shells.  This year the beaches only have clam shells and rocks. We are still on vacation, and I'm still photographing the sketchbook pages, hence the blue background tone.

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May 28, 2019

Moon Snails and Clams

Moon Snail and Small holes in a Clam Shell that I found on the beach this week:

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If you "google" the question "what are the perfectly round holes on clam shells?," you learn that they are made by Moon Snails.  They make this hole with their sandpaper-like radula in the same place on each clam, after excreting something to soften the shells.  Then they suck out the clam for dinner. 

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The radula is part of the mouth, and for those who are interested, google "radula and/or mouth of moon snail" images.  The foot can be extended from the shell, as in the above photo, and cover the clam.  It also spreads out over sand, secretes mucus, and lays hundreds of eggs in the mucus.  The snail then detaches from the sand leaving behind a round, rubbery looking structure which can be found on beaches - usually in several pieces.  One year we saw so many on the beach and didn't even know whether they were manufactured or animal.

NOTE: THIS MAY BE TOO MUCH INFORMATION - but this is the blog entry and photos from our search for the origin of these "sand collars."

June 2013 Huge Beach Mystery: Early this week we arrived for our early morning 2 mile walk and saw many unusual "objects" on the beach. They were very smooth 6-8 inch beige partial circles, each with an identical lip and curved shape which resembled a piece of a toilet plunger.  None of them were a complete circle.  Were they pieces of rubber, manufactured as gaskets?  If so, why were there so many at the high tide line - extending over several miles.

Here are a few photos.  Wet they were very flexible and felt like leather or rubber.  Dry, they were very fragile and crumbled easily.  In the first photo you can see the size relative to an adult hand.

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We picked up a few each day during our walk and asked random people if they could identify these strange things.  Surprisingly, most people hadn't seen them although they were everywhere.  Others, including those who lived here their entire life, had no idea what they were.  In each instance, the first question was "do you think they are organic or machine made?"  Each day we did some random computer searches and found nothing.  Our best guess was some part of ocean seaweed, but what? 

Yesterday I was looking at kelp images and saw a link to a website called MarineDetective.  What could I lose by emailing this Vancouver BC diver and marine expert.  So I did.  Within 30 minutes I received this reply.

"Laughing here! I get asked this so often. These are the egg cases (aka egg collars) of Lewis' moon snails ( Polinices lewisi)!  Moon snails are big predatory marine snails. They look so human made that I have had to correct people when they pick them up thinking they are garbage! By a remarkable method, the female moonsnail forms one layer of the collar by gluing together sand grains with mucus; then the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with another layer of sand and mucus!!!  The eggs are held within the collar for 1.5 months and, in the ones you found, may already have hatched out to be 1000s of planktonic larvae. I include a more detailed description below." 


Best wishes!
Jackie
 
Jackie Hildering
Biologist / Marine Educator
Follow "The Marine Detective" at http://www.themarinedetective.ca/ 

May 24, 2019

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA

It was a gorgeous Spring Day in Philadelphia and I had just arrived for a reunion.  I took a long walk and revisited Rittenhouse Square.  There were people at every outdoor restaurant, sitting on every bench, and even over the grass.  I sat on the wall of a fountain with many others and sketched this little building in the middle of the park.  

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