Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Special Valentine for Me!

I couldn't believe my eyes! 

If you were here on Monday, you'll know that I posted my Valentine to the Sea — a heart I did in Photoshop using a photo I took here in Florida last summer along with a poem by Rod McKuen. 

I do love the sea, it has been a constant in my life since I was three-years-old. I feel a connection and am never happier than when I'm strolling the shore here in Florida or sitting on a cliff in California watching the magnificent waves of the Pacific. Much as others will say their mate defines them and makes them whole, this is how I feel about the sea. She has shared my joy and swallowed up my tears when need be.

All mushiness aside, I spent the day on Tuesday at my little secret beach. I was there at the crack of dawn, anxious to see what the low tide would reveal. AND what do I come across? Take a look at this…



The sea sent a heart back to me! 

Like I said, I couldn't believe my eyes. This is going in a frame for sure. If you don't know what this is, there is a clam under the sand and as clams dig, they shoot up water and this action leaves little trails of sand like this, but I've never seen a heart! I know it was for me, I just know it!

My secret beach had other goodies to share and I thought I'd share them with you. I believe the more you learn of the critters that inhabit our ocean, the more you will learn to respect and protect her.

The first thing I came across was this…




This is the egg casing of a Lightning Whelk. Each capsule on this strand contains the eggs with developing embryos of little, tiny baby whelks inside. The mother whelk buries herself in the sand and attaches one end of the casing to a rock or another shell. Each strand will hold between 50 and 200 capsules and each capsule will hold up to 100 eggs. If all goes well, the baby whelks will eventually poke a hole in the capsule and go on to live a fabulous life dining on clams, oysters and scallops.

Over the years I've found plenty of these casings washed ashore, but on this day, I saw something for the very first time — a whelk actually laying her eggs!

From a distance I saw the siphon canal of a Lightning Whelk sticking up out of the water. This usually signals an empty shell and I was very excited, but as I approached this is what I witnessed…



…this was even more exciting than an empty shell to me. I really don't know why she wasn't completely buried, but I'm no expert on this ordeal. I snapped a few pics and moved on. Later, as I made my way back down the beach, I came across her again, this time she was better hidden…


Difficult labor? Who knows, but it was very cool to see this in nature. I made this collage of some photos I found on the web, so that you can see what the whelks look like when they emerge from the capsules…



This is a beautiful specimen I came across with the morning sun glinting off its shell…



I also spotted a live Pear Whelk…


and this is something else I've never seen…



A Lightning Whelk crossing the sandy terrain. This is something you see if you go snorkeling or scuba diving, not just walking the shore. I thought this was unusual, but my secret beach is so cool, I ran across several more making their way around the beach just like me. Were they looking for love? Probably more like breakfast, but it is the week of Valentine's, so you never know.






Then I ran across another hermit crab, if you remember I posted some pics recently of one that sat there and posed so beautifully. Well, this guy was not happy I was there and had a hissy fit. I was trying to get a nice pic of the lovely Shark's Eye Moon Snail shell he has claimed as his own and he kept coming after me. It was like a Chihuahua going after a Great Dane, if you catch my drift.

Crazy Eyes

I named him Crazy Eyes and then moved on to give him his space.



Let's see, this little guy made an appearance…




I believe it is a Mud Shrimp, but doesn't it look like a little Maine Lobster? 

Then this Sunray Venus Clam put on quite a show, wish I had a movie camera to capture his antics. He was flipping and flopping, coming in and out of his shell and squirting water every which way. Between this guy and the hermit crab, it was quite an amusing day.



Then off in the distance I saw a mound of sand that looked out of place and rather odd. Can you guess what it is?


Here's a closer look…

Barnacle Bill - The Old Man and the Sea

Those familiar with this creature and those who were looking closely at the above photos will recognize this beast as a Lightning Whelk. Can you guess why I named him Barnacle Bill? Ha! Looks like his grandson is there next to him, hopefully picking up some wisdom on how to stay alive long enough to reach this size! He was well over 12-inches, probably close to 14-inches in length.


Let's take a closer look at his "tail" which is actually the siphon canal. Appears as though some form of plant life planted itself and has really grown. Can't say that I've ever seen this before either. Gives a whole new meaning to "shake your tail feathers" though.


So as we head off, here's one last look at Barnacle Bill…



This had turned out to be quite a remarkable day, full of firsts. a few chuckles and an adventure I shall never forget.

Before I left, I found a wide expanse of beautifully decorated sand and left my mark. One that will be washed away with the tide and leave no harm to our precious environment…








26 Thoughtful Comments:

Loui♥ said...

Shelle!!!!
OH!
WOW!!
how awesome!!
I feel like you do..
the sea was returning her love to you..
first marked with the heart..
and next with all the "firsts" she shared..
thanks ever for sharing all these events with us..
I treasure this post of treasures!!!
warmest sandy hugs...
Loui♥

Linda @ A La Carte said...

The heart gave me goose bumps! I understand when you say it gives you that love and comfort. It does to me also. Maybe why I am so sad now as I am too long away from it.

Karen said...

That is SOOO AWESOME!!! I've never seen any of these things LIVE!!..the heart was surely there for you to find- the Universe sending you a message.

What a great place to relax and explore, I am jealous. I think I said that already.

Jane said...

What a morning you had!!! The sea definitely loves you...and who wouldn't?! Your photos and descriptions have taught me more today, than I have learned in years. It is rare that we come across a live whelk...but to see one laying her egg sack is just amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us...
I look forward to sharing that little beach with you...
Jane (artfully graced)

The Decorative Dreamer said...

OMG! That is amazing! How incredibly sweet! I can't believe my eyes either. It was definitely meant for you! I can't wait to see this framed. Thanks for entering the contest and posting it on your side bar. Best of luck! You never know you seem to be one lucky lady lately!

Ms. Bake-it said...

Oh wow Rhonda! What a fabulous day you had! I love how the sea responded to your love for it and its creatures! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I am having serious withdrawals because it has been so long since I have been able to get to the beach.

~ Tracy

Simone @ Doberman's by the Sea said...

That is like Christmas and Easter together or something like that. Awesome experience and photos. So happy for you, my dear!

Love of the Sea said...

You have outdone yourself with this post. The photos are spectacular. And I loved learning about the whelks. I know the heart was for you. Awesome.

~KS said...

Happy belated Valentine's Day my friend!!!
I love that the sea sent you a heart :)
I have been so busy and I am so sorry I have not stopped by more often. But I think of you lots and hope all is well.

michelle said...

Oh my goodness what a beautiful day! I truly believe that that heart was meant for you as a way to say thank you for all you have done for the sea. They must love to watch you as well and even welcome you by putting on little shows! :) Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I am amazed at all the wonders of the sea and so happy that you are their guardian on that little secret beach! :)

CHERI said...

What a lovely morning you had:) I think your connection with the sea is such a special thing.

Kaybe said...

That is possibly the coolest "coincidence" I have ever seen. A heart - come on!. The pics of the whelk giving birth to her egg casing & the venus clam are astounding. I am amazed at the moments you are capturing in your secret place.

Love ya!

ps - picked you up some driftshells tonight.

Della said...

You are such a lucky lady to behold such sights! Wonderful post, I'm still in awe. I love your heart from the sea.

girlunwinding said...

what a terrific walk you had!! such beauty all around you, your secret beach is truly a treasure. Take more walks and share the finds with us. Such a great way to start my day!
~Dawn

becky said...

Wow, Rhonda!!! What an encyclopedia of information you are! This is awesome...also, you must have a fabulous camera! Thanks for this wonderful look at your private beach...you made my day!!!

gpc said...

How wonderful! I can only imagine the excitement at seeing the whelk doing its whelky thing! It was really a thrill to me just to see the photos! And I've never seen a live shrimp on the beach, so many wonders. The heart was a lovely reflection of your own love. Thanks for sharing it.

Sunshinemeg said...

Too perfect! I can't believe that. Of all people to find it, who better than you. Happy Valentines my friend. Enjoy your beach and your day!

jmac said...

How you get these shots, I have no clue. I've been known to sit "patiently" in swamp waters for hours on end to get the perfect shot of a blue heron or egret as it spreads its wings in flight.....but these of the egg sack and the water shooting from a moving clam?? well, I'm verclempt!!
sending you a pic of a heart that was sent to me by the seas as well in Cabo San Lucas!!

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I can't believe that heart! I'd frame it too! We never see such large shells anymore on the beaches we travel. Living near the sea you can find those hidden places where others don't go...lucky lady!

Lindsay-ann said...

Hi Rhona
Oh I love how the sea was loving you back. That's amazing. I enjoyed seeing more for your secret beach.
Lindsay
x

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

How amazing that a heart shape formed in front of your eyes!! And it's so great you sharing all the sea life "alive"!

Kat said...

That heart is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I definitely think it was especially for you! Loved your tour of the beach, that hermit crab made me laugh. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Kat

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Holy WOW!!! This definitely does not happen on te beach in NJ. ;-) So awesome that you caught such moments in nature!

CrazyCris said...

WOW! You sure got some amazing shots there Rhonda! You're very lucky to have this little paradise that's just brimming with life. I hope it brings you many more such pleasures!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

This is such a neat post! I'm glad I read back and found it. I love every shot and of course the person who took them.

XO,

Sheila :-)

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!

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