Thursday, July 19, 2012

Periwinkles, shrimp and crabs....Oh My!

It was a day not so long ago, Monday, in fact.   It was yet another beautiful day in Boston.   Our class met at 8:30 at Starbucks, a space we have since learned is public.  After a short discussion of our findings from the day before and a synopsis of the days prior, we started to discuss the days impending activities.  Following Professor Berman's lead, we all boarded a ferry from The Long Wharf to George's Island.  We then boarded a smaller water taxi that brought us to a smaller less inhabited and visited island Peddocks Island.   In order to get there we had to cross the Hull gut.  I never realized how close and accessible suburban parts of Boston were on a boat.  Pretty cool.

When we arrived on Peddocks Island the ranger gave us a short history of the island and explained its present day uses.  Explaining that people did indeed live on the island, but did not own the property made me think this was kind of a strange place.  But i guess it makes sense because it is a park run by the DCR and they are doing their best to maintain it.  After a short description of the island, we trekked out to the beach.

Finding ourselves on a sandy beach we immediately noticed huge differences in the environment.  In contrast to the previous day's vertical riding tide, we could clearly witness the lowering of the tide as it descended out to the ocean leaving behind wrack lines documenting the different levels of tide.  When we arrived at this site the high was reasonably high, but the tide was going out. These wrack lines were clearly defined by neat lines of shells and other debris.  Mixed in with the coarse sand, we found razor clam shells, slipper shells, quahog shells, and periwinkle shells.  While these shells suggest life in the area, we were unsuccessful in finding any living specimen in this sandy area.    We later learned that this environment is less hospitable than say a cobblestone area. This part of the beach formed a crescent shape.  As we wondered down the beach it bowed out creating somewhat of a point.  At this point we noticed a change in the size of rocks that made up the beach.  From that point on the rocks seriously increased in size.  And that was not the only thing that increased.  The amount of accessible living sea life also increased.  Possible to find various types of seaweed and small sea creatures this area proved to be more interesting.  Within the cobbles that made up this section of the beach we found small tidal pools acting as individual ecosystems.  This area was much more vibrant with life because of the cobblestone's ability to hold the water for longer giving small arthropods, periwinkles and crabs a place to hang out or hide.

As the beach curved back in to a crescent inlet the beach returned back to its sandy self and was once again void of accessible sea life.  After a short lunch and swim break we explored the area behind the beach.  I believe this was mud flat.  It was exactly how it sounds.  A whole lot of mud in a flat space with not a lot going on.   Perhaps this area would be more interesting if it wasn't all dried up. (Dried up salt marsh- mud flat shown above)  This environment was a stark contrast to the floating docks we had observed the day before.
                                           Detail -------------------------->

On the way back we each were required to find and hold a crab, periwinkle, and arthropod.  We found these living individuals in the cobble area attached to rocks (periwinkles) under rocks (crabs) or swimming in mini tidal pools (arthropods).   Good to know where everything presides so I know how to avoid them next time I go to the beach.  Though harmless, I am totally scared of creepy crawlers like crabs, snails, and other small sea things.

We finished out the rest of our day with a nice water taxi back to George's Island where a bunch of people got french fries at Jasper White's Summer Shack where food is love!  Our ferry ride back to the Long Wharf was quiet and relaxing.  I think everybody was tired from a day of exploring, observing and learning.

No comments: