Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The January Beach

I have been so preoccupied with my new camera lens, all I want to do is get out and take pictures.  It helps that this is a fantastic time of year to find birds as they are generally the big ones and they are all out there fishing.  
This squadron of brown pelicans passed right over our heads.
We could see their eyes and feel their wingbeats, they were so close.

The January beach is just as busy as the summer beach.  It's only the humans that are mostly missing.  

This thing was new to me and I had no idea what it was when we came across it washed up in the surf.  It was bigger than three of my fists, cold, and firm but rubbery when poked.  The underside looked just like the top.  

We looked it up.  It's Sea Pork!  

"There is no creature more peculiar than that rubbery red, pink, or gray blob known as sea pork.  It is in fact a condominium of microscopic zooid animals living together in a leathery tunic of cellulose.  Less than 1/8 inch long, each zooid works with its neighbors to pump streams of water and decayed plants into its sock-like body."     -- from Tideland Treasures

The pork attaches itself to rocks at the bottom of the sea where it is dined upon by sharks, skates, and other big bottom-feeding fish. 

Often the only footprints on the beach belong to the shorebirds, forming delicate patterns too pretty to mess up.


Some of these tracks may belong to willets which are common year around.  They are the biggest "sandpipers" on the Carolina beach at 15 inches tall.  They have a unique call which you hear when they take off because you have intruded on their feeding while walking the beach.  "Bill Willy, Bill Willy," they scold as they wheel away toward an empty patch down the beach.  

Earlier in the week when we went for our cold and windy morning walk we encountered several groups of people with big spotting scopes, tripods, and long camera lenses walking purposefully up the beach.  In the paper the next day we found out they were whale watching!  About 30 miles north a pod of humpback whales had been seen migrating south to the Caribbean to calf and these folks were hoping they would pass by. They were skunked.  The pod has not been seen again.


  1. How interesting. I've never heard of sea pork! I love the filigree of bird tracks.

  2. What a weird thing the sea pork. I learn something everyday.

  3. Sea pork is new to me also. So to my mate "Wiki".
    No information regarding it being found here on Australian beaches
    but it has a medical significance in regard to Cancer so treat it with
    We learn something everyday........thanks Cynthia.

    REAL beach weather here at Terrigal but the beaches are packed - school holidays!
    February can't come quick enough and then I'll be able to see some sand and not be
    drown by over enthusiastic kids.

  4. I love the footprints. Any time we go to the beach it's fascinating trying to figure out who's been walking there. I'm sorry the Sea Pork is a bit gross.

  5. Sea pork!! that is interesting.. I never heard of it.. I googled, and what i found a little gross, ..Anyway, it's a living being..

  6. Funny how people miss good times because it isn't popular. There are many different things on a winter beach.

  7. I can almost feel that sand between my toes:) Lucky you get to walk on the beach! :) We warmed up and may get to 30 F above zero!!! :)

  8. Always lovely to see the whales.
    Sea life is never idle.
    Never heard of sea pork! Learning always :)

  9. At first glance I thought that the top picture was actually of planes! You chose the word "squadron" well. I've never heard of sea pork either but I'll be on the lookout for it next time I visit the coast.

  10. I have never come across sea pork before, so it was a delight to learn something new. Beautiful photos.

  11. You have found some beautiful items to photograph. Love the pelicans. I once saw them in Florida flying, had never seen them before in the wild. It was impressive to see.

  12. You make me want to go to the beach again. Poppy and I spent a weekend in January at Holden Beach many years ago. We loved it! I have never heard of sea pork, but do believe I've seen it on the beach. I love the pelicans and other birds seen at the beach. Your pictures are great!!

  13. Who can? Pelican. What a gangly awkward looking magnificent flyer. I love our white version here in Minnesota when I seen the soaring over Lake Pepin...:)

  14. Thanks for naming the sea pork - I've seen it before but never thought to look it up - now I can be all knowing. My favourite pic is the one of the bird footprints with the shell.

  15. Seashores are among the most fascinating habitats on earth. There is an unending variety of life to explore. I have spent countless happy hours probing through tide pools.

  16. I have never come across sea pork before, so it was a delight to learn something new. Beautiful photos.