Jul 18, 2008

Whispering on the shores

4am, the moon is full and there is a whispering on the shore. I'm checking out a shore next to the Causeway for the first time.

And what is making that endless, incessant quiet chatter?

These tiny immobile animals covered every inch of the soft silty ground, and any other hard surface that is submerged at high tide!Barnacles are crustaceans just like crabs and shrimps. They have feathery feet that they extend out of their shell to gather food from the water. And even though the shore was exposed, barnacles were still sticking their feet in and out of the shell. This action by countless barnacles resulted in the susurration that murmured over the shore!

In the relentless effort to keep tabs on our other more magnificent shores, there are few tides left for other shores that seem less promising. At first glance, the shore might seem mucky, disgusting and dead.But a closer look will reveal tiny animals living in the soft ground or busy feeding. An enlargement of the photo above reveals...Tiny amphipods, tiny anemones, tiny worms. And probably lots of other creatures too tiny to be seen with the naked eye!

In fact, the shores were teeming with anemones.Most were really small. In the photo above were NINE anemones. Here's a closer look at some of them...I think they are quite beautiful.In so many different patterns too!The anemone with a pair 'whiskers' in contrasting colours seem to be particularly common on this shore. There were also pale and transparent ones.And some larger ones too.
I saw two of the delightful anemones that I usually only see near mangroves.They have 'petals' around the mouth.And a striped body column!

I'm not quite sure what is happening with this anemone...It is spitting something out? Eating it? A very odd situation that I've not encountered before.

And the soft ground was riddled with flatworms!There are three flatworms in the photo above. Hmm...making flatworm babies?The worms simply 'flowed' in and out of the many little holes, cracks and crevices in the soft ground. There were really a lot of them.There were also a few clumps of what appears to be orange sponges.

All this tiny life supports other creatures. Such as crabs.The Stone crab (Myomenippe hardwickii) is a tough crab that seems to be found on almost every Northern shore. There were also several flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus).There were not many fishes in the shallow pools, and I only came across this one which darted away into a burrow under a stone. I don't know what kind of fish this is.

Nearby, I noticed big and little herons feeding quietly on the dark shore. The shore isn't as spectacular as some of our other shores. But it certainly is alive and part of the larger food chain.

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