Beachcombing

Yesterday was my older son’s 14th birthday so he planned the day.  First thing we did was ride our bikes to the Siesta Key Village and ate breakfast at the Broken Egg.  We have never eaten there; we usually go to the Village Cafe which has excellent food.  My husband has become friends with the owners which has enhanced our experience there even more.  The family that owns the Village Cafe is really so nice, please go in and meet them when you go to eat there.  But today we went to Broken Egg to break our tradition.  The food was great, the wait was not long at all.  I have a long list of food allergies, most of which include breakfast foods, so I had the fruit plate.  Everything else looked great.

After eating we rode to the beach.  We like riding to the 100 block of Beach Road which is the part you can’t take your car on.  The surf had pounded the road all week and it was currently high tide but we got off our bikes and walked around anyway.

There are somethings I wish I could find, others I have more than enough of.  I’ve been wanting to find a moon snail (or shark’s eye) egg collar and had read that about this time of year the moon snail lays its eggs, as does the lightning whelk.  Looking through the swash zone I found broken pieces of the moon snail egg collar.  Unbelievable! What luck!  There were 7 pieces in all, strewn about the small beach area.  So what does a moon snail egg collar look like?  It is sand-colored and rubbery.  The moon snail breeds in the surf zone.  From my favorite beach guide, Florida’s Living Beaches by Blair and Dawn Whitherington, the moon snail “cements its eggs with the sand into a gelatinous sheet that cures into a rubbery sand collar” with a hole in the middle.  Its stands upright on the shifting sand.  When the eggs hatch, the collar disintegrates.  So, if you find the collar on the beach is contains developing little snails.  sand-egg-collar

The pieces I found are too small to make a whole collar and are smaller than what is in the picture above.  There is one large piece so I kept it for our tank that we use for education (homeschooling and 4H. See my posts titled :Our Salt Water Fish Tank parts 1-6).  I took a piece with us to the 4H meeting later in the day to give to the other family in the club that has a salt water tank.  It would be really awesome to harvest these little guys.

We have been protecting a few sacs of a lightning whelk in our tank.  Since I taking a moon snail collar piece to the other family, I thought I’d give them a couple sacs of the lightning whelk egg case.   As I was cutting it to put in a container of water, a few little whelk shells fell out.  We’ve been so busy I hadn’t seen them since they were nothing but a gooey substance.  Taking a closer look at one of the sacs, I saw there were about 10 to 15 little guys inside, probably a centimeter or two long.

I also found a little blob of something on the beach.  I didn’t know what it was but I figured it was a living thing and might be able to live in our tank, so I took it home.  Later, I decided from a book it was an anemone.  We took a look at it in the tank and saw it had extended itself to be, I think, a grey, warty anemone.   Its really fun to watch, not that it does anything like a fish or sea urchin or hermit crab, but it is open and its little tentacles are swaying back and forth…very relaxing.

We headed home after this beach trip and went to the 4H meeting.  It was the last meeting of the year (other than the end of year party and awards night) and we ended it with a birthday celebration for my son.  Walmart had the coolest cake, which we bought for the party: 24 blue iced cupcakes with Spongebob laying on top and white icing surrounding him like water splashing.  The kids liked it. Yum.

So what else did I find on the beach?  Coral pieces, moon snails, lightning whelks, a whole sand dollar, a bright orange scallop, jingle shells of all colors and some channel duck clams and some trash.  I always pick up trash from the beach.  It just goes in  my shell bag.  Hope you do the same.

  It was a good day for beachcombing.

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