04 January 2008

Beach toss-ups and blow-ins

At this time of year, the most common animals that are beached here in southern New South Wales are insects, though on this trip I also saw a huntsman spider. These Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus ) were picked up from the lapping waves. Neither of them moved till the photo shoot, when they both remembered they were late for a date, though the upside-down one's scurrying was futile, as this picture shows its best side. Its wings are terribly fractured.

There are enormous numbers of insects that meet their death at the sea's edge and in the ocean. During some Decembers, large numbers of butterflies can be picked out of the waves, and it's surprising how many flap their wings once they dry. Many insects that are blown into the sea can be plucked from it, taken out of the wind, and released to live another day or the few moments they have left. Yes, it's pointless, but what is the point of Wii?

As to the ones crawling close to the waves, there are often confused ants to be seen, and I have been stung more than once by bees when I accidentally stepped on them. The windier the weather, the more insects. Wind cannot be blamed, however, for the mystery (to me) of the sometimes lemminglike deaths of those that are not known to travel in swarms. There was the instance a few months ago when I counted a sopping dragonfly every few metres for almost a kilometre, just at the tideline.

A large variety of seeweeds are often to be found on the beach, and this is only a sprig of one type that is lying in heaps and sprigs all over the beach here now.

The little fish, already worse for wear when I picked it up, is a Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus), about which The Australian Museum has a page with much information, as well as gorgeous pictures of the living.

As with many outdoor photo shoots, the model was pestered by unwanted attention.

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