After our first week and a half of science boot camp, we took off for a few days at the beach to hang out, explore, and look for turtles at night. We didn’t find any turtles, sorry to ruin the suspense, but if you know me well you know that I live for ocean. Set me up on the beach with a towel, a book, and a pair of goggles and I’m set for pretty much ever. I had really wanted to see baby turtles hatching, but so it goes- we saw lots of other awesome stuff.
One thing I had not expected to find at the beach was a giant walking stick, which has been on my list of must-see animals from the beginning of this trip. I love stick insects- their camouflage is fascinating, their stick-like behaviors are so fun to watch, and they are so gentle. All species of walking sticks are vegetarian, usually munching on leaves of the rosaceae family (but branching out too- I had some stick-bug friends at the Bohart Museum of Entomology last year who hailed from Australia and ate eucalyptus), and make really good hats.
I spent hours in the sand right at the waves’ edge- I’ve found that people often think of white, sandy beaches as inert, simply there for suntanning and waves, mostly devoid of life, especially if the life isn’t obvious (turtles, jaguars, sharks, etc.), but right where the sand meets the sea a whole host of little critters are partying it up. Literally millions of little striped snails oozed in and out of the wet sand with each wave, and little greenish-grey crabs used the points on their sides to dig themselves in as well, leaving only the top of their carapace and their pointy claws showing. Big snails, small snails, crabs of at least 4 varieties, tiny fish, probably clams, and felt-but-not-seen jellyfish were all through the surf, so as we dove through the waves listening for dolphins and whales, I was always on the lookout for smaller friends.
Somebody besides me knows about the wealth of little critters in the sand. These little birds were foraging, probably for the snails’ little filter-feeding arms.
This beach was beautiful beyond words, and a much-appreciated break.
More on mangroves soon! (Playing catch-up- we’re at Monteverde now and I’ll have lots of good photos from here soon as well. Yikes!)