Sunday, July 15, 2012

Out of Breath at The Beach

Another beach day much like yesterday, warm, muggy, partly cloudy, but as always happens, somehow different too.

Today, what was different was the Bay.  We appear to have been on the edge of a low oxygen event, caused by a couple days of consistent south winds, which move the bottom water up on our shore through a process called upwelling.
 The first clue to that was a large number of pipefish, hanging right in the surf zone.  Pipefish are a relative of seahorses, both have their bodies armored in strong scales, a tubular mouth and an unusual form of reproduction where females lay eggs in a pouch that the male has, making them one for the few groups of animals where the males "give birth".

There were lots of other kinds of fish in the shallows as well, including this little flatfish.  Likely a Hogchoker, this may also be a relatively rare Winter Flounder.

There were also large number of crabs in the shallows, making wading a bit dicier than usual.  There were other fish in the shallows as well, silversides, clingfish and others, but I saw only a couple of dead silversides washed up.  By the time we finished our walk, the hypoxia must have been dissipating.  There were much fewer fish and crabs in the shallows.

The birds find these so called "crab jubilees" to be a good thing, because it brings a lot of fish up into the surface, for easy pickings.  This eagle was fishing in the nearshore waters.

 As was this Osprey.

I think the Cardinal in the Kudzu was just a coincidence, though.

Coming and going.

Another dragonfly.

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