Monday, January 07, 2008

Beautiful day!



The sky and the water were beautiful, walking along the east end of the beach this morning. The cold weather last week which dipped into the mid-20's burned the more tender plants on the island, including some along the shore.



Blog viewers, what on earth is this scary, prehistoric-looking sea creature?! If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can more clearly see the sharp spines along its back. It was slightly larger than a man's wide-spread hand. The general shape and tail make it look like something in the ray family, but I've never seen anything like this. YIKES!

6 comments:

Bumble said...

Its a horseshoe crab

Barrier Island Girl said...

Thank you so much, Bumble! I've never seen one before and I certainly wouldn't have guessed it was a crab.

I researched it after your response and discovered that the Horseshoe Crab is more akin to the scorpion or tick! Imagine stepping on one of these fellows!. Ouch!

Steve K said...

This fellow has the latin name Limulus, you can find more info under that. It's very characteristic, if you've seen it once, you'll always remember. It's the only living family of the Xiphosura order and, actually, close to the Arachnida, which is the spiders. There are four species still around, living on the American eastern seabord and in Southeast Asia.

It's a classic living fossile, Limulus have been around for 400 Million years, with most variety between 400 and 140 million years ago. If you see one of those reconstructions of marine life during that period, almost certainly there will be Limulus pictured.

They have gills, normally live on sandy ground between 10 and 40 meters depth, but can also swim - bottom side up. For mating they come close to the beach, leaving characteristic tractor-like trails that have also been found in fossilized form. They live from shells and the like and can dig themselves into the sand by alternatively flexing and unflexing their body. Actually, they have blue blood, having haemocyanine instead of our haemoglobine in their blood.

Thanks for your wonderful pictures around Christmas and the New Year, an, wishing you a wonderful, splendid, healthy and happy 2008 -

~hug~

Steve K. from Germany

Steve K. said...

PS:

http://www.mbl.edu/marine_org/marine_org.php?func=detail&myID=BX151

Steve K.

Anonymous said...

Check out www.thunderdave.blogspot.com March 2006 for mating horseshoe crabs taken while we were in Cedar Key two years ago.

Barrier Island Girl said...

Thanks so much to everyone who's left links for more info on horseshoe crabs, including the fact that this creature has copper-based blood!