We headed to Singer Island on the east coast for Super Bowl weekend so we could watch the game with my in-laws. These trips east always involve some incredible nature sightings, like the time we saw a 4 foot (maybe larger) green iguana on the beach and how we can watch the manatee swim by from my in-laws balcony over the Atlantic Ocean. We can watch sharks swimming about, too. We always find an abundance of Portuguese man-o-war on the beach; tiny ones the size of your fingernail to some that look like party balloons; there are shells of all kinds 2 feet deep near the coquina limestone. You get the picture. Well this time was no different.
I first found out that a magnificent frigate bird had nested along the intercoastal waterway side of Singer Island, just across the street from their condo. My father-in-law told me how they had watched, for weeks, the birds flying around, then the fledglings, but to my disappointment they were gone by the time I had arrived to visit. We were planning a day trip to Peanut Island but the cold front and strong wind kept us indoors. Instead we took our usual walks on the beach mid-day when the sun was beating down on us with warmth.
Along the wrackline, I saw what looked like tons of purple finger nails. At a closer look, I discovered the beach was covered with these hydralike animals called By-The-Wind-Sailors. They are in the phyllum Cnidaria, like jellyfish, but are not a jellyfish. They float on the open sea and have what looks like sails on them, so they float directionally with the wind. By-the-wind sailors also have tentacles.
Well, if that wasn’t exciting enough, among the by-the-wind sailors I was examining, I found several purple sea snails. Now, I had given up on ever finding one since I had bee reading that I could only find them in Key West, and I had no plans of traveling there. Defeated, I had bought one at a shell shop in Sanibel. But, this day, I had a hand-full of them. My favorite actually has the bubble raft attached. The bubble raft keeps them buoyant. I should have done my homework better and not given up so soon. Purple sea snails prey upon Portuguese man-o-war and by-the-wind sailors, so I was bound to find them here in the West Palm Beach area.
I added to my seabean collection, too. I finally found the following: 2 brown hamburger beans, several Hog plum mesocarp, and some more bay beans.
Another thing we saw that was so cool and caught the attention of my boys: a beached tree trunk covered with both goose barnacles and duck barnacles. I found a 5 inch piece of drift wood with goose barnacles attached for my collection.
We didn’t see any new birds on the trip although I did spot a total of 4 crested caracaras along the way home. There were plenty of osprey and hawks as well.
What a great trip!