Take a Walk on the Wrackline: A Drifted 2019

2019 wrackline was full of drifted treasures. Some had human origins, others arrived from rocky intertidal, subtidal, pelagic, estuarine, and terrestrial sources. Unravelling the stories of marine drifters, at least trying to, is irresistible. Most of their stories will remain mysteries. That’s what keeps beachcombing compelling. Arranged chronologically below, starting with memories from last winter…

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Along the Winter Drift Line

Winter is a season of strong winds and big surf, forces that lend a seasonal flavor to the drift line. The strongest signal on my home beaches arrives in the form of bull kelp- drifting masses cast up with the first fall storms. Masses keep arriving, one after the other, all winter long. Bull kelp…

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Browns Put on a Shine in the Drift Line

The crows and gulls weren’t complaining. They didn’t ask what subtidal force mobilized such a large quantity of fresh material. High tide left a drift line littered with macroalgal debris. Drizzle and a chilly south wind made gloomy conditions for foraging and beachcombing. I didn’t notice the shine until I looked through the photos of my…

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Beach Hoppers Rejoice Over Drift Macrophytes

A foggy morning with low visibility and muted colors and sounds. Under these conditions you’ll find more action down at your feet than off in the distance. On this morning the air was still and warm. Sunrise added little more than glare and from the foredune the atmosphere was as oppressive as the view was…

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Dosima fascicularis, A Pelagic Barnacle, Builds its Own Float

My first in-person encounter with buoy barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, came just a few days ago on March 26, 2016. People call them buoy barnacles or own-float goose barnacles. The names make sense because D. fascicularis can produce a foamy gas-filled float, alleviating the need to hitch-hike. The color, according to photos I’ve seen, varies from creamy…

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The Dynamic Wrack Line

Every winter high surf and rivers swelled by drenching storms combine with high tides to replenish the wrack line. It’s an annual cycle of renewal, muted only when winter storms are mild. Recent winters on my home beaches have seen few storms, low surf, and little replenishment of the wrack line. That changed this winter.…

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Brandt’s Cormorant Doesn’t Survive Attempt to Swallow Barred Surfperch

Have you ever taken too big a bite? This Brandt’s cormorant did, presumably, and paid the ultimate price. A group of my friends, and my sis too, decided to spend New Year’s morning with their dogs on off-leash Carmel Beach, California. There, they made this curious discovery in the drift line. The slim neck of…

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A View From the Wrack Line (2015)

Walking the beach, down in the swash or up in the wrack line, I’m wondering what the rivers, currents, winds, and surf will bring to my home beaches. This year the drift was full of treasures. Some had human origins, and there were lots of items from marine and terrestrial sources too. Lots of carcasses,…

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