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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: 


 The Pool House and Shed:


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.


May 28, 2019

Moon Snails and Clams

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



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. 


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.



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 Hildering
Biologist / Marine Educator
Follow "The Marine Detective" at 

June 21, 2018

From Beach to Beach

After our beach vacation on Long Island, we are returning to Martha's Vineyard to vacation on another beach. Retirement is wonderful and the settings couldn't be more different.  To record the move from the Hamptons to the Vineyard, two of my 30 X 30 paintings (direct painting/no lines) done while in NYC from my photos were of the lighthouses in both places.  The Montauk lighthouse was painted, after I painted the sky as a negative space. Fun, and the type of challenge I needed. 



The house we will be in for a week, a direct painting from one of my photographs. Blog image  photographed, not scanned.


The beach at Acquinnah in Martha's Vineyard is rocky, with big rocks in the surf, and smaller ones on the beach.  Near the cliffs at Gayhead there are several huge rocks in the ocean that are always covered with cormorants.  This is a sketchbook page of mine from a previous visit, but many were on the rock again yesterday on our beach walk.


June 8, 2018

Beach Vacation Three - 2018

We were shocked to find a shark on the beach during our morning walk.  I still need to use the shark identification algorithm to figure out what type of shark it was.  The week we arrived we saw a big seal on the same beach, and we found out very quickly that it wasn't dead!  But the beach had very few shells or other interesting marine life.   



The one shell I did find was the gorgeous deep sea scallop shell - my 6th in 11 years. 



I am participating in the Urban Sketchers 30 X 30 challenge and painted this sea gull by its shapes - no lines.  I have a separate sketchbook for those daily paintings, and I will post some as the month progresses.  I think in lines, and not shapes, so this is a good learning experience for me.  



I'm still also doing really fast line of action figure drawings - pencil to make the line of action and pen for the drawing.  These were the beach type ads in the magazines I saw, love these quick sketches for figure drawing practice.  I sketched them on scrap paper and collaged them on one of my sketchbook pages.


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