Thursday, July 26, 2012

     Exploring tidal pools is something that has never grown out of me, and something I will always enjoy doing.  Today on Lovell Island looking through the rocks and searching for critters I felt like a little kid again.  There is nothing more relaxing then wading through the water looking under rocks examining the wildlife that was left over when the tide retreated.   
     Lovell Island is one of the more diverse islands within the harbor because of both its beaches and vegetation.  Next to the pier is fluffy sand which slowly turns into larger rocks as you move down the beach.  Once you arrive to the point there is nothing but rocks; a few covered in seaweed making them tricky to move across.  Fortunately most are littered with barnacle which make for the best grip you could ask for.  There is a large jetty that sticks out which was a resting place for a hand full of birds called cormorants.  Navigating through the rocks was a difficult process as they were covered with a thick blanket of rock weed and sea lettuce which would send you sliding into the water if you weren't careful.  Within the rocks were an abundance of blue oysters which were firmly embedded into the rocks and had barnacles growing on their shells.  There were also a large number of periwinkles locked onto the rocks.  I decided to see how long it takes for a periwinkle to reattach itself to the rocks after being pulled off.  After a couple removals it seemed they would stick themselves to the rocks after 25-35 seconds of being sealed in their shells. 
     In the shallow tidal pools hermit crabs were out and about also exploring the pools, likely searching for food.  These little critters would retreat into their shell when picked up, often times leaving a claw out.  As small as they are you wouldn't think they could move as quickly as they do with the, what seems to be, much larger shell yet they find a way to scatter rather quickly. 
     These tidal pools are clearly an all you can eat buffet for the seagulls that patiently wait for the nine foot tide to head out.  Crab shells were all over the place and were clearly the victim of something much larger and stronger...gulls.

     It was now time for the mystery of the day...What were these snail shells?  How did they happen to arrive on this flat rock?  And how do they appear in the trees? This is definitely something that can leave you scratching your brain for a bit.  The fact that there are thousands of species of snails and no two species have the same shell can make you second guess your answer a number of times however  (  I will go out on a limb and say they are White Lipped snails.  Although they are common in northwest Europe, the shell is what sells it to me. 

Second: Why is this critter on a rock?  We can quickly count out seagulls as they don't hunt in the forest, however smaller birds which can easily remove these snails fly them to a nice flat rock where they are pulled from their shells and eaten for some meal. 

Its an aggressive island in terms of wildlife.  Everyone is trying to survive and unfortunately if you are small and have nowhere to hind there is a good chance you're next on the menu. 


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