Dauphine Island

I just spent a week on Dauphine Island off the coast of Alabama in the Gulf.  I was very curious to know what differences there might be between the Atlantic and the Gulf beaches.  I have to say I was very disappointed with the beach on Dauphine Island.  It is very narrow; there is a seawall farther out which keeps out the normal waves, so that is not as interesting.  There are a number of gas rigs out in the Gulf which means the view is not so great.  And there were practically no shells at all, much less in a variety of shapes and colors.  What shells there were were white.  It was very commercialized with people zipping around in motorboats and those seadoo thingys.  Lots of condos and people, not much nature.  It’s not for me.

View Larger Map

A Ten Sand Dollar Day

This time we picked up the sand dollars right in the water as they were being washed ashore.  It looked as if they just glided in underwater.  Sometimes they were left on the sand, but other times another wave would take them back out, if you weren’t quick enough in picking them up, that is.  We did manage to get ten of them; that beats the previous record of eight.  (So, of course we ran into a family who said they found fifty on the beach at Ft. Clinch last April!)

I saw a little whitish shrimpy critter scurrying along the sand at the wave line with a little one hanging on to it.  But by the time I got the camera turned on and focused it dived into the sand and disappeared leaving a little hole.  Well, now I know what makes all those little holes I’ve been seeing.  Must be what the birds go after, too.

And then…as I came even with a group of people looking at what a boy caught while fishing from the beach, I saw that it was a sting ray.  It was off the hook and on the sand; the dad pulled it by the long spine back towards the water (apparently it’s a bit heavy) and then tossed it in.  It landed upside down so he waded in and turned it over.  And with a graceful undulation of its sides it headed for deeper water.   The way they move through the water is absolutely beautiful!  I had no idea that sting rays were so close to shore, I guess I had just assumed that they were much farther out there. 

The ocean is awesome.

Sharks! and Tellins

  The days are ever so gently blending together so that I no longer remember which day contained which events.  Late afternoon-early evenings at the beach have been wonderful with their full blown breezes to cool the heat.  On one of these days, further south along the beach, we got there in time to see the lifeguards packing up to leave; one of the items they carried was a red flag.

This is the first time here on the island that I have actually seen flags flying on the beach–at the life guard stands.  Well, it’s the first time I’ve seen lifeguards, come to think of it!  I have seen the posted signs at the edge of the dunes with the information of what each color of flag means. (The funny thing is that the signs posted at various places along the beach don’t agree….)

Anyway, the red flag is a warning flag.  But I wasn’t going in the water anyway, so it was just a casual interest.  But…     Later that night we found out that sharks were seen in the water and the lifeguards had to get everybody out of the water.  That would have been interesting to see everybody streaming back to shore instead of going into the waves. So, no sharks teeth this trip; one shark sighting instead.

Another evening we chose a different section of the beach, one that was wider.  This day it happened to be extremely smooth with a large shiny wet surface on the sand.  Hardly any shells, except for live tillers.  These are little colorful shells with the two halves joined together.  Approximately triangular in shape, although a long triangle pointed on one end and fairly flat on the larger opposite end.  I spent quite awhile just watching these little critters at the water’s edge.  When a wave came it apparently dislodged them from under the sand so that they were left lying on their side as the wave receeded.  Almost as if being conducted in a symphony, as a group they would each pop upright for an instant, pointy end down, and then quickly work their way into the wet sand so that only the flat end showed, just barely.

There are a lot more people on the beach this trip, but then it is summer.  More dogs.  I’ve only seen two dogs go in the water; the rest run, walk, and visit.  And, of course one other thing for which their owners bring little bags so it can then be disposed of in the big blue trash barrels back at the edge of the dunes.  More people, but still not that many; it’s still nice.


The Beach

  I’m back on Amelia Island; am thoroughly enjoying the weather although people here complain about it being hot.  It’s a very nice change from the cold and rainy, stormy weather back in Missouri.  A delightful breeze blows every day, the sky is a beautiful blue with a few clouds drifting lazily across the sky some of the time.  I love the beach and the sound of the waves tumbling towards the shore.  Every day is different when it comes to what the ocean leaves on the sand–which types of shells or other things.  This trip I’m finding more sand dollars than ever before.  No luck with finding sharks teeth this time, though; well at least not so far.

Met one girl who had just found her first sand dollar; she was sooo excited!  It is addictive, almost as most as hunting for sharks’ teeth.  (I didn’t tell her that I have 14; got 8 in one day.  Of course Lois was a big help there–she found five of them.)

Now I have the “problem” of trying to get them home without breaking.  They are rather fragile.  I found two that were much darker than the others; but they are lighter now that they have…dried out more?  On two days I found two only to have one break each day.  I do have those funny-looking little white pieces that fall out, though.  They are somehow part of the sand dollar’s mouth.  You can see the hole for the mouth on the underside in the middle.  I went online to find an answer to a question about them and discovered that when sand dollars are alive they are purple!  Very pretty!  Would love to see one alive.