They mark the beginning of every single sunshine-filled season of my life and have for as long as I remember. I used to hate them. Some poor soul would tell me they were angel kisses to which I’d respond “tell the angels to quit kissing me!”.
Now they are simple reminders that I had the first of many fun filled days exploring God’s creation with my family. Every winter they fade. Every spring they return, usually followed by slightly burnt cheeks and forehead. Now Mr. T and Mr. F show a sprinkling of freckles over the bridges of their noses after a day in the sun.
Those tiny spots of over-enthusiastic pigment are reminders of joy at the end of the day when I check to make sure my freshly washed face is all clean before bed. And the day I’m sharing with you is all joy, and ocean, and sandy toes, and the kind of day that pictures just don’t do justice because the only real way to remember is by holding the small smooth bluish gray mollusk shell I found in my pocket on the way home from our trip.
Tybee Beach Ecology Trips
I found Dr. Joe’s beach trips by happy accident. I was merely looking for things to spot on our visit to Tybee, when I came across his website. As a science lover with two science, ocean, and animal loving boys it seemed like a really fun way to spend a morning at the beach.
Dr. Joe is a retired professor of marine sciences who is so filled with joy and wonder at all the amazing creatures that it is completely contagious even for the youngest adventurers. First he told us all about the tide zones, then about where to look and what creatures we might find, and a little safety reminder to not climb on the shell encrusted rocks of the jetty. Here he was showing us two Lightning Whelks. They, unlike their other sea snail counterparts, open on the left side of the shell. Dr. Joe told us all about them, what they eat, how they move, and how they grow the extra shell off their backsides to close up the shell opening.
We found so many wonderful creatures! Our group had about 20 people total and it was so fun to do all the exploring together. Below are some more pictures of the wonderful animals we got to see which included Lettered Olives, a big whelk, a moon snail, sea cucumbers, anemones, sea stars, sand dollars, cannon ball and lion’s mane jelly fish, hermit crabs, marine roly poly pill bugs, and others that I can’t remember. I cannot say enough wonderful things about all the fun we had and all the knowledge we picked up from our just over 2 hour exploration with Dr. Joe. If you are visiting Tybee Island, you should definitely consider a Beach Ecology Trip!
Sea stars were abundant! We found a live sand dollar that had dug itself halfway into the sand. The moon snail was huge! It could move pretty fast, too. And Mr. F and Daddy were leaning in to touch some anemones and watch them close up.
Dr. Joe provided scoop nets and shovels and big bins to create our own touch tank for the animals we found. Mr. F had a blast collecting sea stars and digging for snails. The boys both noticed the barnacles since we’d watched Magic School Bus Goes to Mussel Beach last week and were so excited to see real barnacles. That slug looking creature is actually a species of small sea cucumbers. Mr. F picked one up that was filled with water and it squirted him in the face. When he recovered from the shock he laughed so hard and called it a “silly sea cumber”!
You can see the trail in the sand of the touch tank left by the Lettered Olive. Mr. F wouldn’t hold still for a picture but Mr. T and I got one in front of the sea. Mr. T also found a baby sea star and he was so excited! We had such a wonderful time. To see more of Dr. Joe’s ecology adventures, you can find him on Facebook!