Down the Shore

During last month’s spring tide, we went down to the end of Flatbush Avenue to wander along Brooklyn’s shoreline at Dead Horse Bay. Spring tides, which occur just after full moons, result in unusually high high tides and unusually low low tides. The water level was the lowest I’ve ever seen it out there. (Note that the spring here is not the season, for spring tides occur throughout the year, but rather the verb; the tide springs ashore.)
Moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. They have a mild sting in the water, but are supposedly safe when dead on the beach — although I’ve never tried to confirm that. This is a common species in our area, and are found on both bay and ocean beaches. (Recently, on another beach, in much colder weather, we found a bunch of them frozen — this is probably a delicacy somewhere, calling Iron Chefs!).
Some kind of acorn barnacle. These crustaceans begin their lives as free swimming creatures, then glue themselves headfirst to a surface, often in the intertidal zone, for the adult stage of their life. Modified feet reach out to draw in plankton to eat. Darwin was mad for them. When the tide pulls out, they close up the six plates of their shell and wait for the return of the water. Dead Horse Bay, with its litter of old exposed along the shoreline, has some interesting surfaces for them to anchor on.
This is a false angel wing clam, Petricolaria pholadiformis. This species is found up and down the East Coast, but the shells are rather fragile and rarely survive the tumble of the wash-ashore. In fact, this was the first time I’ve ever seen one whole. It was far from the water, and probably dead, but we put it back into the water, anyway, just in case. Later we found some of the empty shells; they might be thought of as fallen angel wings, at least by the Miltonians amongst us.

Yes, it’s cold. Yes, the wind can be fierce. But there are few things more invigorating than walking along a beach this time of year.

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