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Published: April 8th 2012
Oliver was a good sport about wearing his cool shades. He's also sporting his carrot-shaped bubble necklace that the Easter Bunny brought him this morning. We're ready to set out to Whitecap Beach!
After much anticipation on Oliver's part, we finally set out for Whitecap Beach this morning. Whitecap Beach is technically part of Corpus Christi, although it's over the causeway on North Padre Island, where we're staying. From the condo we rented (in the same complex as Andrew's aunt & uncle's beach condo), it's about a block and a half to the shore.
When we reached the sand, I was surprised to discover vehicles parked up and down the beach. Many were parked within twenty or thirty feet of the water's edge. We had to hold Oliver's hand until we were right on top of the water because cars cruised by. I wasn't sure how I felt about the cars on the beach. On the one hand, Andrew's cousin was able to drive right up to the shore so their grandmother could come, too. Also, by having "open beach" laws, there's no need to destroy the dunes for parking lots. On the other hand, driving on the sand and dunes can't be great for the habitat, either. Andrew's Uncle Gene told me Texas is one of the last states remaining with open beach laws, and legislation bills come up almost annually in
Texas is one of the last remaining states with open beaches, which mean people can drive on the sand and park on the shore. The minivan got stuck for a minute.
attempts to change it. He said there are experts on both sides of the issue who argue that having open beaches is better or worse for the environment. At any rate, it is what it is, and people can drive right up to the shore. When Andrew's cousin, Rachel, drove up, the minivan started to get stuck in the sand. With a little maneuvering, it broke free, and she was able to pull up to the shore line with Grandma Jackie.
Oliver was hesitant about the beach for only a few minutes. The tide was fairly low but moving in, and I was worried there could be jellyfish scattered over the sand alongside the seaweed that had washed ashore. Thankfully, we didn't see any, and I was able to relax as Oliver explored the shoreline.
Uncle Gene showed Oliver and me dozens and dozens (perhaps hundreds?) of conquina clams. I've seen the empty shells on beaches before, but this was the first time I saw them alive. These clams wash in with the waves and burrow under the sand. We could actually scoop aside just a few inches of sand and find clusters of the clams underneath. The
Strolling the Beach
Oliver and I are walking alongside the shore, making our way to the rest of the family's vehicles that are parked at the shore.
low waves would wash over them, and then they'd burrow back in. Gene explained that a little muscle, or foot, comes out of the opening and digs down. We watched the clams dig into the sand over and over again. Apparently, they feed on seaweed and other plant material. Some other muscles feed on these clams. Gene said their predators have a muscle that can bore into the side of the shell, leaving a little hole as evidence. When he said that, I realized that I've seen shell halves scattered on other beaches with holes left on them. I didn't realize that was their mark of death!
Oliver loved exploring the clams. He'd dig up sand and dump it into the plastic seive Gene had brought along. He'd let the ocean water run over it to remove the sand, which left only the clams behind. Then, he'd dump them back onto the sand and watch them burrow. Gene went out in the ocean and dug around the Sargassum seaweed to find very tiny Sargassum crabs and shrimp that live in the plants. He put them in a bucket and showed Oliver. I have to say, I don't think I've
Oliver and Me at Whitecap Beach
The warm breezes felt great. The temperatures barely broke into the 80s, and the ocean water fairly warm. It was the perfect beach day. In this photo, you can see the mounds of seaweed that washed ashore.
ever seen Andrew quite so happy as when Oliver showed such a keen interest in the wildlife at the beach.
While I'm not sure about the tiny crabs and shrimp, Gene told us that the conquina clams are edible, and people make soups and such from them. While interesting, I think I'd be much more likely to eat the seaweed! Actually, that's a joke, too, because the seaweed itself was unlike anything I've seen before. It wasn't the green, leafy stuff that you might find along the shores of California. This stuff had a reddish hue and was pretty tough. I didn't venture out into the ocean, but Andrew said the seaweed was everywhere out there.
After a couple hours of playing with the clams, splashing in the ocean, and even building sand castles, we decided to head back for lunch, showers, and naps. Andrew and Oliver are both eager to go back. I think Jo wasn't quite as keen on beach life, but she was a pretty good sport.
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