Archive for Starfish
As we celebrate new days watching the sun rise over the horizon at low tide in the new year on Sanibel…
We also shellebrate the gifts of the sea…
We also celebrate the gift of witnessing living creatures exposing themselves for just a short time as the water recedes.
With most animals, we are easily able to see if they are alive, healthy and breathing but with creatures of the sea that have washed ashore, it’s a little bit more difficult. We (shellers) take the time to to look for signs of life with respect. As soon as I saw this shell was occupied by noticing the body and OPERCULUM of the “snail” still intact, I gently placed it back in the water covered with sand making sure the opening faced down into to sand.
Even for some shellers, it’s hard to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is dead or alive so the best thing to do first is… slow down. Take a few minutes to look for any cilia which looks like fur or looks a little fuzzy in the edges. Any time a SAND DOLLAR is this color, assume that it is still alive… gently place it back in the water.
If a STARFISH is any where near the water or if the sand is still damp where you found it, always assume it is still alive too and let it be.
Shellers are very fortunate to have seen the miracles of Mother Nature as we comb the shorelines to discover the magic of the sea. We learn new lessons every day we walk the water’s edge. For most beach combers, we know the signs of life in sea creatures but inexperienced visitors may be overwhelmed with the beauty that surrounds them and not know to take the time to look for signs of life. Since I grew up on the water, I always assumed other folks knew shells, SAND DOLLARS and STARFISH live their lives close to shore but now I’ve learned that most people don’t know much about life in the ocean or gulf. First time visitors to the beach may have heard how amazing shell collecting is and unintentionally collect a live animal without knowing it. It’s an amazing experience to see the compassion on a new sheller’s face after learning they have collected a live animal then race it to the water where they found it to save its life. Most just don’t know… and are thankful to learn and appreciate the living ocean even more.
There have been so many live critters exposed during the morning’s low tide the last few days so with many newbies on the beaches, I’m sure I’ll get to see the amazement on someone’s face that just learned for the first time that shells, sand dollars and starfish are living beings and are still actually alive.
Come with me on a shelling trip! For upcoming dates … CLICK HERE
These are the beautiful treasures we are used to seeing on Sanibel after strong winds from the Gulf Of Mexico.
Brittany (Georgia) and her dad Steve (Kentucky) found plenty of BANDED TULIPS, LIGHTNING WHELKS, LETTERED OLIVES and APPLE MUREXES at Gulfside City Park beach yesterday.
But this time there were more shells mixed in with them. Look at those beautiful shells Clark found! He found that awesome ALPHABET CONE within 10 minutes of wading in the water. He said all of these shells were found by blind scooping in the water with his trusty shelling backhoe.
We found unbelievably huge SEA PORK chunks all over the beach as well. SEA PORK is a TUNICATE as well so its in the same family as the SEA SQUIRTS.
There were quite a few baby STARFISH along the shore line as well. This little one was still alive so I put it back in the water for a chance of survival.
Clark showed me another huge glob of SEA PORK. Wowza! They are so pretty when they are this bright orange. Im not sure if its true, but I read somewhere that if SEA PORK has a bright color like this to it, it is still alive (well, the zooids that live inside might be still alive). So this one went back in the water.
I’ve never seen so many different types of SPONGES washed up…
This was probably the biggest and most perfect DEAD MANS FINGER sponge Ive ever seen.
There were even other weird TUNICATES hiding within the SEA PORK and SPONGES. This one was a little more gooey but had bright orange lobes just like some of the other SEA PORK TUNICATES. After such high winds, its so interesting to see all of the different plants and creatures that get washed up on our beaches. It’s like our own private touch tank – I love it!
The rewards are even greater when we uncover little beauties like these to admire.
A STARFISH can be tumbled by the sea so roughly to lose an arm or two but can pull himself back together by re-growing those broken limbs. They can also endure tidal changes that leave them stranded on the beach with little water at low tide. They are survivors! I watched oodles of these survivor SEA STARS use their TUBE FEET to scoot around the tidal pools and upright themselves after a wave turned them upside down. They even use those TUBE FEET for feeding and breathing so even though they might not look like they are alive, if they are anywhere near the water they have a chance to survive. (OMG That PELICAN photobombed my STARFISH picture! LOL)
We have an iLoveShelling boat cruise for shelling on Cayo Costa this Friday June 6, 2014 at 1 pm. Join us!