Monday, July 16, 2012

Peace on Peddocks Island

I feel like I visited another planet today. Peddocks Island was a treasure- a secluded, natural, practically untouched island only about a ten minute boat ride away from the Boston shore. After walking through a wooded area, and passing by one of the only cottages on the island, lived in by some very lucky people who have contracted to give the land back to the government once they die, we came to the opening to the beach.

The first thing Professor Berman pointed out was the wrack- that is, the area away from the water where everything gets pushed up along the beach by the tide. What the wrack line mostly showed were the lightest things that get pushed up: shells....thousands and thousands of mostly blue mussel shells, empty and dried up by the sun. We found a few slipper shells, which have a kind of hood tucked under their belly, showing evidence that an animal lived inside it once. We saw razor clams, long and rectangular in shape, and we also saw the skeletons of former periwinkles. ( interesting to note that the hole that can be seen when turning the periwinkle upside down is there because it is drilled by the tongue of another snail).

I found a couple of oyster shells- but it was not clear whether they were washed up by the ocean, or whether they were the remains of the cottagers last night's dinner. Contrary to our "day of seaweed" yesterday, we only found, really, two kinds of seaweeds along this beach. A white curly seaweed and a green curly seaweed. Bits of old beach glass in colors like pink, purple and green tell a story of the past and can be artifacts that teach you something about history. Apparently, glass that remains green in its color can be traced back to Nazi Germany when they manufactured green bottles to the States. However, the purple glass we found told us that these bottled were manufactured here at home, since America's glass faded and turned color over time from its original green. We saw a dead Skate fish, which looked a bit gory with three holes on its underside.

The beach began to change the longer we walked along it. We learned that the pebble beach, which is what we first walked on, changed to a cobble beach, which meant that the rocks become bigger. The difference is that on a pebble beach, everything is basically dead and dried up, where as when you find larger rocks , there is more water and therefore you can find more living things. It was on the cobble beach, where we picked up large rocks and found dozens of tiny asian shore crabs ( an invasive species), and we were encouraged to pick them up and sing lullabies to them. I was pretty freaked out at first to touch one, fearing it would bite my finger off, but I held it from the base of its body and it actually felt kind of cool to feel its claws straggling around my hand. I derived a great sense of excitement from learning how to discern the sex of a crab! The female actually had a triangle shape on its underside, and the male, well, has a long, narrow, pointed rectangular shape. When i get done with this Blog, I look forward to watching crabs mate on YouTube, and not because I am perverse- really, just out of pure fascination.

We had a relaxing lunch and i has a great swim in these untouched waters. The sea tasted saltier than it does closer to the shore of Boston. It was refreshing as hell. Afterwards, I checked out the mudflat behind us, the outskirts of it was a bed of cracked mud and then in the center, what looked to be an actual pond with ducks enjoying a bath in it.

I guess one thing that struck me the most was learning what a great effect periwinkles have had on the beach. Who would think that these little snails could move mountains on their very own? Yet, they eat the algae on the rocks, releasing the sand away, and what is left is a rocky beach. So they have changed what was originally sandy beaches to rocky beaches.

I came home exhausted and sunburnt, but transformed from this almost surreal and tranquil landscape, only to disembark the Boston-bound boat on Boston's shores, bustling with crowds of tourists. I must admit, that having to return and face the seashore's largest predator- Man- was a bit of a buzz kill.

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