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On the Books, with Nathaniel Lachenmeyer

We Are. Rock Flippers.

IMG_1431 International Rock Flipping Day dawned pleasant and sunny after yesterday's Hanna-induced monsoons. It was low tide when we arrived at the beach, on the Long Island Sound. Low tide leaves a lot uncovered—perfect conditions for flipping.

IMG_1418 (crab) Under one of the first rocks we turned over were some small Asian shore crabs. In addition to being quite invasive in the Sound, they're very fast and hard (for me) to photograph. So, my assistant courageously volunteered to hold one while I snapped away. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

IMG_1428 (mussel)The assistant then found a whopper of a clam, and within a few seconds figured out how to make the clam squirt his mom. The next creature of interest was this mussel (left), which had been minding its own business in the water, under a stone. There are lots of mussels in the intertidal zone.

On top of a rock near one of the beach's jetties were some cormorants sunning themselves and drying out their wings. IMG_1435 (cormorants)

I like an old Audubon Society field guide, Atlantic & Gulf Coasts, for identifying what we see at the beach, but could use an updated one. Covering seashore life from plants to whales, the edition I have does not, alas, mention the shore crabs. Children may want to look at the color photographs in the book; otherwise, it's geared for grown-ups. For the kiddos, the DK Eyewitness title Seashore is informative, and Jim Arnosky's nonfiction picture book Beachcombing comes recommended by my friends over at the blog Literate Lives.

An excellent book (for adults) about the Sound is Margins: A Naturalist Meets Long Island Sound, by Mary Parker Buckles; not a guide book, it's more essay-ish in form.

Via Negativa is compiling a list of all the participants in today's rock-flipping festivities. I will add links here over the next couple of days, too. Keep reading after the jump for the roster so far.

Pohanginapete (Pohangina Valley, Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Blaugustine (London, England)
Nature Remains (Ohio, USA)
Pensacola Daily Photo (Florida, USA)
KatDoc’s World (Ohio, USA)
Notes from the Cloud Messenger (Ontario, Canada)
Brittle Road (Texas [?])
Sherry Chandler (Kentucky, USA)
osage + orange (Illinois, USA)
Rock Paper Lizard (British Columbia, Canada)
The Crafty H (Virginia, USA)
A Passion for Nature (New York, USA)
The Dog Geek (Virginia, USA)
Blue Ridge blog (North Carolina, USA)
Bug Girl’s Blog (Michigan, USA)
chatoyance (Austin, Texas)
Riverside Rambles (Missouri, USA)
Pines Above Snow(Maryland, USA)
Beth’s stories (Maine, USA)
A Honey of an Anklet (Virginia, USA)
Wanderin’ Weeta (British Columbia, Canada)
Fate, Felicity, or Fluke (Oregon, USA)
The Northwest Nature Nut (Oregon, USA)
Roundrock Journal (Missouri, USA)
The New Dharma Bums (California, USA)
The Marvelous in Nature (Ontario, Canada)
Via Negativa (Pennsylvania, USA)
Mrs. Gray’s class, Beatty-Warren Middle School (Pennsylvania, USA)
Cicero Sings (British Columbia, Canada)
Pocahontas County Fare (West Virginia, USA)
Let’s Paint Nature (Illinois, USA)


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Wow, you really found a lot of cool residents at home under those rocks!

This looks like so much fun!

Good finds! The little crab is kind of cute, even if it is an invasive species. (I guess it would be cuter if it was somewhere that it belonged.)

Ah, I'm jealous of your shoreline and wonderful finds. Amazed at how many people are reporting invasive species finds, though. That's a little sad. Wonderful photos--thanks for sharing!

"The assistant then found a whopper of a clam, and within a few seconds figured out how to make the clam squirt his mom"

I had to laugh at that. That's so much the boy thing. Good to read about rock flipping along the coast; the intertidal zone's endlessly fascinating. Thanks Deborah.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. We did have a lot of fun. Junior could have stayed out on the jetty for another 6 hours... He had his net and his fishing bucket (which used to be a huge commercial deli container of pickles) and was all set.

An assistant? Mine is grown and would be leery of squirting me with a clam, or anything else.%>)
Lovely post, great writing and pics. Thanks for sharing the shore with us.

Thanks for stopping by and for the nice words! The assistant, a.k.a. my 8-year-old son, thinks hunting for sea creatures is grand. One day he brought some shore crabs home, and they escaped from on top of a very high hutch and came crawling into the TV room at about 11 at night. I thought they were some kind of terrible insects at first...

If Jr. wants to see some really amazing stuff, he could come to Franklin and flip my sofa and chair cushions. Beats crabs and cormorants any day! I haven't seen a DK Eyewitness book dedicated to this activity yet. (Though I do love her travel guides.)

Ha! He'll probably take you up on it.

Hey this is cool. I still remember when I was young, me and my peers would go to the river and catch some crabs. We also need to flip those stones to get one, and yeah they are really fast in escaping so you really have to be fast also and take courage to grab them once you have the chance to caught them. I just miss my childhood memories..Thanks for posting this....

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