Back To The Beach

On the 6th of March I found a S/S Larva dug in 75 mm, (3 inches) 10 metres (30 feet) down from the high tide mark and marked it with a stick buried in the sand, with two more markers in the sand dunes to check on the next day.

It was pointless really, attempting to ‘claim the beach’ as a laboratory.

Diary: Thursday 7th March 2002

Conditions at New Brighton

(43/ 31 South, 172/ 43 East)

SUNRISE: – 7:14 am

TIDE: – Low 6:21 am. (0.5 metres)

MOON: – Rise 12:18 am, Set 4:06 pm. Moon was Last Quarter yesterday

‘Hit the beach at 6:15 am after driving down to Beatty St. Took flask. Scanned the area with a small torch set on horizontal -was dark still, overcast, temporary type stuff,-cool. The sun would be out by 10 am. The marker stick had been either kicked out or washed and kicked out. Better give all that a miss I think.

Walked back to Sth Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club sat on the seat on the clubs front ‘lawn’ and poured a hot drink. The cut was up and running (the prevailing, often irritating easterly sea breeze) at 10 knots and borderline chilly. With the light a little brighter at 7 am packed up and sauntered down to the low tide area, flask under arm and hands in pockets.

Watched carefully the damp sand a couple of yards ahead and towards the sea where the light struck best. 100 yards along the beach heading south, came across another dig-in about 25 yards from the high tide mark at the point where the sand ‘wets up’, studied the tracks, determined to ascertain the original direction to see if SS Larvae had arrived during the night or returned home. ( to the dunes?) Sure did scrutinise those claw prints but the light really was neither sufficient nor eyes good enough. Settled for guessing it had dug in and was still there, so carefully dug a little at a time. Gotta make sure. It was 7:15.

By the time had reached 150 mm (6 inches) the sand was collapsing faster than could dig and felt I was wasting time. Just as decided to stop, the edge fell in at the top and a big fat grub landed on scoopful of sand.

Great, it was here after all and this time not hardly dug in at all, in fact the larva was only a mere 25 mm (1 inch) down and was not in a digging position, was all curled up and the shape of the impression was still left in the sand. The rim of the hole confirmed that, filled in the hole again with shoe and stuffed the grubby one back in at about 25 mm (1 inch) down and smoothed the sand over with shoe, then patted the sand with soul until the area ‘pattied up’ nice and wet, then left it alone and gathered up 5 dosinia shells and strategically lay these concave down in the form of a small cross with the last shell right on top of the grub.

SS Larva may come up a trifle disorientated but with a tad of extra effort would no doubt dig around it, and those shells would not be disturbed by anyone, the tide would simply wash over them; the waves were almost nonexistent. Some thoughtful person with tremendous foresite had plucked a thin branch of willow driftwood 7 metres (20′) long and stood it upright in the dunes, so using this as a marker bearing, walked towards it and ¾ of the way up beach laid a straight line of 4 or 5 various handy shells.

Now tomorrow had to check that one out, where would it ever end. In 6 mths time could still be sussing this ponder which could quite easily take one where no man has ever gone before, .……or at least down to South Shore and the Spit. So tomorrow have to check on a 24 hour, double high tide wash. On way back found another set of very large SSL tracks which were daft in the extreme. This one had traversed the beach almost right down to the waters edge and now the tide seemed full out. Was it keen for a swim? Followed it towards the sea. About every 3 metres (10 feet) it had changed direction and crawled in a tiny circle no larger than an apple and then carried on in an immaculately straight line, seaward.

Stood at the waters edge where the last little circle had begun though not finished. It had run out of time, left for the sea too late, for there were seagull footprints and although dug extensively it was obvious said grub had become gull tucker.’