Lebanon Reporter

January 23, 2014

When no more footprints are left in the sand?


Lebanon Reporter

---- — Walking along the shores of Anna Maria Island, I am nearly hypnotized by the continuous lapping of the waves upon the sandy shore. Many poets have written about how the moonlight glimmers on the seemingly never-ending horizon of an ocean. But, I wonder, has there ever been a word created that can truly describe all that God has created in this world, or for that matter, the universe? As my feet leave behind footprints in the sand that eventually will disappear, is that really any different than when we pass on and in a generation or so, the knowledge of our existence will also, most likely vanish? Ghost crabs scamper across the sand during the night, in search of whatever they consider food, occasionally being interrupted by the curious tourist attempting to capture them by tossing a hat or beach blanket on top of it. During the daytime, and without knowledge of many of the beach goers, these mysterious creatures are carrying on with their daily lives just inches below the surface of the sand, awaiting the sun to dip below the far-off horizon. Unknowingly, the out-of-state traveler picks up what appears to be some sort of tangled, brown seaweed and after feeling its slimy surface, heaves it back upon the hot summer sand. Unwittingly, the sun worshiper has just been handling an unusual creature called a Basket Star Fish. Despite its shape not resembling anything near what we would normally picture in our mind, it however is of the same family.

Coquina Beach, appropriately named after a tiny mollusk that calls this beach home, is a beautiful rainbow colored beach. The beauty of this beach is created in part by the many colors of Coquinas that make up the beach. Bending down and scooping a handful of sand and shells will quickly give the unsuspecting beachcomber a unique experience. Just after picking up a handful of beach sand, those tiny, triangle shaped shellfish will soon begin to burrow into the sand in an attempt to escape. Though we are blessed with a colorful view of these tiny creatures, if you decide to collect a few of these to take back to Indiana, they will soon lose their brilliant hues, leaving you nothing more than just a handful of dull-looking seashells.

If you wish to venture a little south of Sarasota, Fla., you might be lucky enough to find a very unusual beach that is located on a small, narrow island that goes by the name of Casey Key. I don’t actually know the proper name of the beach that we use to go to, but it has some very interesting treasures to be discovered. Depending on the wind and wave action, you might be able to find hundreds, if not thousands of shark teeth littering the shoreline. The brave explorer may want to don some swim fins, snorkel and a mask and venture out into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico where the quantity and size of teeth will definitely increase. I have found teeth that were smaller than my own and some nearly reaching the size of a shot glass. Most of the treasures that you will find are dark in color, which means they could be thousands of years old. On occasion, you will find a few that are still white, which by the way, means that they were still in use by their original owner not so very long ago. Many of the teeth still show evidence of having a serrated edge.I have found during my expeditions on the beaches of Florida, that each one is unique in its own way, and if you have the time and ability, you can find a variety of interesting items at nearly every location. At one spot, you might be lucky enough to arrive just as the sand dollars are moving near shore to breed, while just down the coast, sea horses might be hanging out in the grassy bottoms of an inland bay. As you skim the surface of Sarasota Bay, you will notice that the seafloor is covered like a checkered board with mounds that resembles ice cream on a cone, even including the curl at the top. These mounds were not created by any form of extraterrestrial, but were designed by a type of worm that lives in the ocean. Most likely, they are related to the same worms that have for so many years destroyed the wooden hulls of sailing ships.

As you dive into the shallow bays of Florida, you will now and then spy a line that has been drawn in the sand, most likely caused by a stingray as it dragged its pointed tail along the ground. Another, more prehistoric looking creature that goes by the name of the horseshoe crab can also leave the very same type of line. To describe this critter is rather difficult, so, if wish to see one, just look it up in an encyclopedia. Yes, there are still books that you can reference, which means that you don’t have to burn your eyes out staring into a computer screen, thus saving money on an eye doctor visit!What would this world look like if all of the oceans were suddenly drained leaving deep canyons, enormous mountains and hidden ancient cities exposed to the sunlight? What if our world was left without the sight of playful dolphins leaping on the horizon, or not being able to witness massive whales traversing the globe causing spectators to ooh and ahh? There would be no shorelines or beautiful sunsets, let alone any moonlit walks on the beach, and certainly no footprints in the sand.

Contact Raymond Snoke at shark_guy2@yahoo.com.