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AT
Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 05:55 pm:   

A fingernail-size frond of pink coralline algae in a tossed-up tangle of kelp and other seaweeds, moved. A seaweed decorator crab. Even in the palm of my hand, this creature didn't look convincing as an animal. Other finds yesterday: five (and I'd never found one before, only pieces) whole Port Jackson shark egg cases (otherwise known as a mermaid's purse). The mother screws the case into rocks. which is why finding them whole is such a special occasion. Usually all that washes up is a thin curve of a piece, a man's big toenail made of tortoiseshell. Half-buried in the sand, they look frustratingly like fine guitar picks. 'The cases are leatherlike,' it is often written, but I think are more artichokelike, and they even dry with a similar curl. The Port Jackson shark is beautiful and harmless unless you are a sea urchin, mollusk, crustacean or a small fish.

Other finds yesterday:
Impossible sponges, still luridly coloured and some, with the most 1960s textures
The most marvelous find of all, also influenced by the 60s (it must have been a nostalgic tide)-
The Mary Quant Jelly thing
beachfind cutblowup.jpg
Actually, that's my common, common name. It is properly commonly called a star sea squirt and those orange and black flowers are little colonies of individuals. Though they do 'discharge their filtered water into a common space,' none of them have ever written a thing, nor even, to my knowledge, inhaled, but I haven't checked under the microscope yet.

That, by the way, is what I could put under my scanner. A small bush of the thing with a slightly different design is in a bucket beside me, and if I had the right seawater setup, it would live to a ripe 7-year age. Instead, the piece that's pictured is now drying into a precious bookmark.
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AliceB
Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 07:02 pm:   

Wait a minute--if I got this right, each of those orange thingies are an individual animal? And the whole acts as an individual animal too? Way cool.

Best,
Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 07:03 pm:   

Uh, "is an individual animal"...
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 09:29 pm:   

Anna: I enjoyed both the photo and the descriptions -- beautiful stuff.
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, November 20, 2005 - 02:00 am:   

what a weird looking thing. cool.
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AT
Posted on Sunday, November 20, 2005 - 03:31 pm:   

I didn't make one thing clear. The zooids are the individuals in the colony, not the colony (otherwise technically known as 'thingie') itself.
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AT
Posted on Monday, November 21, 2005 - 08:51 pm:   

If you want to see the whole piece, I've put it online as I'll now be posting occasional pieces as a new part of my site - Bowl of Critters: An occasional snack. Bone a petite!

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