A View From the 2018 Wrack Line Through My Eyes

2018 was full of drift treasures. Some had human origins. Others were from rocky intertidal, subtidal, pelagic, estuarine, and terrestrial sources. Unravelling the stories of marine drifters, at least trying, is irresistible. Most will forever remain mysteries. That’s what keeps beachcombing compelling. Below, arranged chronologically, from the distant memories of last winter at the top,…

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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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A Blue Buoy’s Solitude

Started out as a blue buoy, now it’s just a fragment. Dashed in the surf and scrubbed in the swash, swirling sand has worn its once jagged edges smooth. Its surface now scoured clean of the encrusting community it gathered at sea. I wonder, how many nights bobbing adrift? How many mornings awash in the strand? Solitude Where did…

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Bull Kelp, Graceful in the Drift Line

In life, bull kelp is the picture of grace. Its scientific name, Nereocystis luetkeana, is graceful too. What about after bull kelp’s short life ends, does it retain its grace? Every fall, storms dislodge bull kelp from its rocky anchors. Once adrift, some are tossed ashore where we can answer the question without getting wet.…

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A View of the 2016 Wrack Line Through My Eyes

Whenever I’m down in the swash or threading my way through backshore driftwood, or anywhere in between, I’m searching for things the currents, winds, tides, and surf deposit on the beach. This year the drift was full of treasures. Some had human origins, and there were plenty from marine, estuarine, and terrestrial sources too. Unravelling…

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A Pyrosome Beach Cast

So many sea creatures we don’t know about until a beach cast drops them at our feet. It happened again on December 13th, 2016. When I topped the foredune just ahead of high tide I didn’t know a mystery awaited in the drift line. I had to get on Twitter right away to find out…

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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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Thinopinus pictus, a Predatory Intertidal Staphylinid

If you walk the drift line you’ll want to get to know Thinopinus pictus, the pictured rove beetle. Pictured roves roam the damp sand between the swash and dry sand ambushing beach hoppers. They’re most active at night, but the odds of running across one on your morning walk are high. You’ll have to watch…

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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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