National Geographic Online

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Thanks Nat Geo for helping us get the word out there about conserving the Horseshoe Crab (and our own species)!

Here’s the ending that didn’t get published and what I did after counting only 2 females and 4 males the night of the full moon:

In the back of Bobby’s truck there were at least 100 crabs already piled upside down on top of each other. Their their legs and tails clicked against each other like a thousand knitting needles. Dr. Matt Salvani of the Cornell Cooperative Extension says volunteering “isn’t just for fun. You are really helping. It’s a real hands on experience. All you need to do is walk the beach and count…” Or in my case drive.

On my way to my car, I grabbed two females and three males out of truck. The female’s sides were full of eggs, I could feel them squish between my fingers and I am grateful that now she can lay them.  A little male lies quietly upside down in my lap, as if he knows he’s just been pardoned.

Volunteering is a real hands on experience. As I place the crabs back into the water, they unfold their ancient shapes and slip back into the freedom of the bay and a bashful full moon winks down at us from behind the clouds. Bobby, if you are reading this, I owe you six bucks. I wish I owed you more. (all photos by Veronique Louis)

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Horseshoe Crab Spawning Has Started

The season is beginning when I shape shift from a landlubber to that creature that best suits my aquatic and sunny personality – a mermaid. And what better way to greet the season with the magic currently sweeping our eastern shoreboard? The Horseshoe Crab Spawn.

Already, I am finding spawning pairs on the beaches and am reminded that this ritual has been occurring for hundreds of millions of years, a breadth of time in which we appear to be but a speck. A number of major magazines are finally researching the industry too, which my next novel is about. Glad to see The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and The Huffington Post looking at this amazing creatures who have changed our lives and our medical industry.

Looking for Some Laughter on a Cold Night w/”The Brady Bunch” Skinny Dip

Hard to find much to post of an aquatic nature this time of year. The boats are in dry dock; we didn’t even get out to see the seals. There is a fire in the fireplace and coats and gloves have been pulled out of storage and this memory from the sixties has been pulled out of storage too. Stay Warm!

CONGRATULATIONS “CUBA to FLORIDA” Mermaid #DianaNyad on Never Giving Up!

Diana NyadWith a name like Nyad, what can we expect? This woman has topped the tenacity charts and reminds us that sometimes it takes 30 years to achieve your dream, so don’t give up in the meantime! You may have to swim through sharks, stinging jelly fish, and the absolute maddening intellectual boredom of swimming for 53 hours (I used to do multiplication tables when I swam for 3 hours! and I am not good at math), but you can still do it if your desire outweighs all other obstacles–internal and external.

I remember reading the memoir of the first woman to swim the English Channel when I was about 12 years old. I wanted to be just like her. I was dancing in NYC when Diana Nyad swam around Manhattan and knew I would never have the courage to face those mucky garbage filled waters that she did, and I loved her account of that swim. What is it about long distance swims that inspire me? The sheer determination to face such vast solitude – nothing but your body and mind, your breath… I love what Diana said about Swimming the Florida Straits though: “swimming looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

DON’T MISS THE VIDEO CLIP OF HER ARRIVING ON SHORE – WITHOUT HER LAND LEGS!

What to do on a Rainy Day – Atlantis Marine World!

I love those lovely rainy days that give me a break from the beach and send me into a good book or a long game of Scrabble or pinochle, but if you have company or kids, there are a few other things you can do on rainy days for the more rambunctious in our lives. Atlantis Marine World is a tad expensive for those on a budget but it is worth it. The butterfly room is magical and even in the rain you can spy the otters sleeping in their hole or explore an archeological dig and find fossils.I met a lovely woman and had a long conversation about creativity and fashion–she is a designer. While we spoke, the kids got dusty and kept showing us the things they were excavating.

In the next room was a makeshift mine, where kids can stand by a sluice and find gems and fossils too.  I love watching kids get wet and dirty and find treasures!  On the way out, the hospital and marine rescue has some of the turtles that have been saved or are being rehabbed. (In fact, a great Christmas gift is to give a sponsorship of one of the seal, dolphin or turtle rescues.)

Finally, don’t forget to feed the sting rays!

 

HOW TO HAVE A SPONTANEOUS BONFIRE on the BEACH

On Haven's Beach in Sag Harbor

On Haven’s Beach in Sag Harbor

First of all – it is NOT hard! If you follow these instructions you too can make a bonfire on a whim. (Whims include: a beautiful night, a beautiful sunset, a full moon, a half moon, a sliver of a moon, a warm breeze from the gulf stream, dolphins off the coast, no reason except no one wants to go inside for a few more hours!)

Most importantly, you have to organize your ability to serve your whims ahead of time, and restock for the next time a whim strikes you. So in order to have a spontaneous bonfire on the beach, I suggest you stock the following items in the trunk of your car:

  • Firewood (some beaches have their own firewood, but I always have a few sticks in my trunk, just in case)
  • Newspaper (to start the fire easily – I often use trash I find too, but hopefully your beaches are clean!)
  • Lighter (lighters work better than matches, esp in the wind and humid salt air)
  • Corkscrew (this should need no explanation)
  • Blankets (this should also need no explanation)
  • A couple of stories in mind
  • Marshmallows (After years of research, we have come to the conclusions that Jet Puffed are BEST!)
  • Graham crackers (you CAN make gluten free s’mores with just the marshmallow and chocolate – good for diets!)
  • Dark Chocolate (adults hide this and give the kids the cheap stuff! I like Lindt 70% with my marshmallows)

Stay tuned for The Art of Making S’mores! (How you toast a marshmallow is a very important skill) and the Art of Having an Easy Cook Out on the Beach.