After a tempestuous weekend, yesterday was nearly perfect: sunny, in the mid 70s, with just a puff of a breeze. The Gulf was calm and smooth and the glimmer of the dipping sun made it look like liquid gold. So lovely!
I am fortunate that the northern portion of beach near me is littered with shells (there are very few shells if I choose to walk south). I have to control my urge to collect all of them but I can’t seem to resist these sparkly, lustrous ones.
Jingle shells (Anomia simplex) come in various colors; milky white, shades of yellow and gold, coppery orange, and even silvery black. Lucky for them they are too small (averaging 1-2″) and bitter tasting for humans, so they are not threatened or endangered, unlike many of their bivalve kin.
The shiny, thin shells are often used decoratively and make a pleasant tinkling sound when strung together (hence the common name).
Treasures from the Sea
I participated in our local beach cleanup yesterday morning with 13 other hardy souls who braved the chilly temps (it was 48° when we started out). It is interesting to walk the drift line after a storm has blown through, I never know what I’ll find. Especially after one that riled up the surf as much as this last one did.
This time it was a lot of stuff that is usually firmly anchored to the sea floor: from sponges, sea whip, and soft corals to man-made objects such as crab pots (not pictured), split tires, and buoys.
It was a lovely morning on the beach plus, I scored a few treasures: a beach towel, three sand dollars, four pennies, two hair ties, a fishing lure, a can koozie, and two pairs of sunglasses (though one pair was a bit small for me).
When scouting Treasure Island as a potential home base back in December I was charmed by the low-slung, retro motels that lined Gulf Boulevard. It was a pleasant reprieve after the towering condos and crowded beaches of Sarasota. Many of them have been converted into efficiencies that snowbirds from Canada (and other northern climes) rent out by the week or month.
As I wander past, I enjoy watching the clientele as they play shuffleboard, use the barbecue area, and gather for happy hour by the small pools. Thankfully, many of the beach motels have retained their spunk and sass (as evidenced by their signs).
I did my best to do as commanded, I complimented the book and gently stroked the page. Never got much of a reaction but I presume it was pleased?
Today’s afternoon beach stroll was more of a forced march into the wind. West central Florida is under a Wind Advisory through tomorrow morning. The high winds (20-25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph) even prompted the closure of the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which will snarl commuter traffic for anyone heading south from the St. Petersburg/Tampa area. Thank goodness I live and work locally!
On the plus side, I had the beach to myself. Though in places it was hard to recognize my beach under the coating of foam. Some of the foam had a sticky enough composition that it actually picked up sand particles as it rolled along, forming weird, lumpy sand sculptures.
Now I must hit the shower in order to get the sand out of my hair and ears and every other exposed body part!
I found this turtle scute on the beach after one of the recent storms. Fear not, my finding of this scute does not imply that a sea turtle died. Aquatic turtles can shed their individual scutes, unlike their terrestrial relatives.
If I was a better researcher I could not only pinpoint the species this scute came from (as each species has uniquely shaped ones) but also its exact position on the carapace. Suffice it to say, it came from one of these three species that frequent Florida’s Gulf Coast: Loggerhead, Green, or Kemp’s Ridley. I omitted the Leatherback as it does not have scutes and also the Hawksbill as it would be recognizable since it is so decorative (items labeled tortoiseshell are derived from this species).
The barnacle cones on both sides of this scute mean that it has been detached for quite some time. I’m surprised that this keratinous structure could survive so long.
After a few chilly, gray, and drizzly days it was nice to get out on the beach again. While waiting for sunset I was entertained by this enthusiastic group of skim boarders. The Gulf Coast of Florida doesn’t have great waves for surfing but the small bend in the coast near my house creates just enough action for skim boarding.
Floating Tiki Bar
You can reserve a ride on this unique vessel in Johns Pass near my house. I have a question for seasoned sailors, if it floats and has a motor does that make it a boat?
Whatever it is, it looks like a great place to spend happy hour: hanging out with friends, listening to fun tunes, and drinking a cold beverage while watching the sunset and dolphins frolic in the bay.
Happy Friday, y’all!
Over 300 native species of freshwater mussels and clams have been documented in the US. Of those, 200 are now either endangered or extinct. All of Florida’s 60 native species are protected to a degree; some are completely off-limits while others have harvest limits of 10 per person per day. The Florida Shiny Spike Mussel (Elliptio buckleyi) falls in the latter category.
There were many of these shells scattered along the banks of the Myakka River during my visit last month. Apparently, the park’s Limpkins find them quite tasty (and more prevalent) than their usual snail fare. I was particularly enamored with the rich, coppery iridescence on the interior of the shells. In case you were wondering, the elliptical shape of the shell is reflected in the Genus name, Elliptio.