Thursday, December 13, 2007

Disc Dosinias on Fort Myers Beach

A few weeks ago I was down on Fort Myers Beach, toward the south end, and found tens of thousands of beautiful white clam shells washed up on the beach. Most of them still had both halves connected. I wondered why so many dead clams in one spot? Could they have died from red tide offshore and then washed up with the currents? Perhaps it was a purely natural life-cycle event and no evil organism is to blame. Who knows?

These were small, delicate, white clams called Disc Dosinia (Dosinia discus). It is the first time I've seen these clams, although my reference books say they are common. Perhaps I've seen them before, just not in the thousands.

I have seen mass strandings of Fighting Conchs on Lover's Key and on Clearwater Beach, but I suspect that some mating ritual is involved with that. Below is a photo of the beached Fighting Conchs (Strombus alatus) on Clearwater Beach in 2005.

I couldn't help but pick up the little Dosinia clams; they were so clean and fresh looking. No wear and tear at all. It's always nice to find fresh shells on the beach that aren't worn down by the sand and surf.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Late Summer on Pass-A-Grille Beach

Well, it's Friday! I've been working hard this week so I decided to spend some time at the beach today and do a little snorkeling and just relax. We've had a brisk northeast breeze for the last few days, so the water is really calm on the Gulf side of the islands and the breeze helps to alleviate the effects of the 90+ degree heat.

The water temperature is still a balmy 86 degrees and the beach is very relaxed, with only a few people out on the sand. I found a beautiful Lettered Olive shell in the shallow water. There were very few shells on the beach, so it was a nice surprise to find this one.

It was a beautiful morning. Going in for a swim always relaxes me and puts me in a better state of mind for the rest of the day.

See you on the beach!

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Saturday Morning on Pass-A-Grille Beach

This morning we went out for a relaxing morning on Pass-A-Grille beach. The Gulf was very calm. The swell from hurricane Dean didn't hang around long. But apparently the swell from the very distant hurricane was enough to dislodge millions of tunicates from the sea floor and wash them up onto the beach. You can see them in the photo below. They look like shells, but they are soft-bodied tunicates, which are filter-feeders, about the consistency of dried apricots. They are encrusted with shell fragments. They are starting to stink. Photo below.

Some seaweed or algae had also washed up. Mostly "Green Fleece" (Codium spp.). It wasn't enough to interfere with enjoying the beach or to prevent me from going for a swim in the 85 degree water. The water has cooled down several degrees in the last few weeks in the St. Petersburg area. The Gulf was still nearly 90 degrees up in the panhandle last week when I was there.

The water was fairly clear and there were a lot of baitfish. The patterns in the sand and the way the light was reflecting off the water was really nice. I've always loved poking around in shallow water. A few days ago I saw some small stingrays in this area, but I didn't see any this morning.

It's always nice to find both halves of a scallop still attached. Not many shells on the beach this morning, but I was happy to find this one. I enjoyed looking at it and put it back for someone else to discover.

Pass-A-Grille is a quiet place at 9am on Saturday morning in mid-August. Another fine beach day.

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