Publication:

Animal Scene - 2021-09-01

Data:

SAND TRAIL

ANIMAL APPEAL

The next day, we did the same routine at Maremegmeg Beach, in the same area where we caught the Rockskipper and the Shore Crabs the previous month. We had a hearty dinner at the Maremegmeg Beach Club to fuel and prepare our bodies for the nightlong trip. It was very fortunate that the tide was much lower than our previous month’s visit to this same area. However, except for my cellphone, I was not able to bring my usual stuff with me because I had to take passengers in my car coming to Maremegmeg Beach. I thought that I would just take pictures of the animals we encountered there – no need to catch them. Just a few moments later, I would feel both regret and gratitude that I did not have any net or line with me. During my previous visit, we did not see other creatures aside from the Rockskipper and the Shore Crab. This was because the tide was higher and we could only explore the big rocks that were bordering the water. This time around, the tide was really low, exposing submerged rocks where fish normally hid on a regular tide. What we experienced was really amazing. We saw a number of Cowrie Shells crawling on the rock surfaces, foraging for algae and other edible organic material. These guys used to be very common, but it had been quite a long time since I last saw live Cowries, not to mention in such healthy numbers. They were indeed very pretty. Since I did not have any container, I showed them to the kids on the spot and gave them a short lesson about the shells before putting them back to where we found them. I kept my cellphone flashlight on while heading back. We could still see those little fishes staying still near the surface of the water, blinded by the bright light. It would have been quite exhilarating to stay and observe them, but the night was getting late. While trying to decide whether to tarry or to hurry, there was a sudden movement in the shallow part of the water, kicking up sand that seemed more like a trail of smoke coming from the locomotive of a train. That was a familiar sight to me, although I usually saw something like that during the daytime. I did not think these critters would be sleeping in this area during the night, because I usually encountered these guys in sandy beaches, not on rocky areas. But I guess it also made sense, since the submerged rocks protected them from the waves and from predators. As I approached and peeked closely, my guess was validated. The creature that made this signature straight line dash with smoking sand effect was none other than the Tongue Sole. I have observed other flatfish before, like the flounder. They also made that sudden dash out of their hiding place, which was basically any sandy place where they half-buried themselves, but none of them swam off this straight and none of them kicked up sand all the way to the next hiding place.

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