Sea sponges

The beach – Cley-next-the-Sea – this morning.

Nearly high tide – strong waves.

Cloudy sky with the suspicion of sun.

Wind coming from the west and is on my back.

img_0480

Ironically I was thinking about what I might write about next here on the blog. I am working on something at the moment but I’m not quite ready to reveal all yet! (but I do put work in progress photos on Instagram if you are interested). As I walk on this shingle beach I always keep a weather eye out for an interesting pebble, so my eyes were, naturally, looking just in front of my feet. Almost immediately I spotted a softly yellowed ball of sponge, and then another and another. Looking up I saw more and more of the yellow sponges scattered right along the high water line.

img_0482

They are the empty egg cases of the Common Whelk (Buccinum Undatum) and are routinely found all round the British coast. Their common name is Seawash Balls and in the past sailors would have used them as sponges for washing.

Whelks gather together to spawn and they lay their eggs in small lens-shaped pouches which are glued together in a spherical mass. Although each pouch contains about 1000 eggs only one or two eggs hatch as the unhatched eggs are used to feed the first hatchlings. Once the eggs have hatched (or been eaten) the empty mass floats away and is washed up on the beach.

img_0499

I pick a ball up. It is heavy. Normally when I find these sponges they are white and papery dry and so light that they dance up and down the beach, blown by the wind. This Seawash Ball is waterlogged – not dripping but dense with water. It looks fresher and less desiccated than ones I have seen before and I wonder if the power of the recent big tides could have dislodged a whole mass of eggs from their laying grounds and deposited them here on the beach?

img_0479

Walking on along the high water line I find more objects washed ashore by the unusually  big tides. Wood …..

img_0489

(I would have brought this bit home but it was too big and too heavy) and several rusty things ….

img_0500

This bit did come back with me.

I wasn’t expecting to find something to write about this morning but you just never know what you may encounter. There is always something new to be noticed and experienced – that’s what I love about this place.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Sea sponges

  1. Deborah Pawle

    What a wonderful piece of wood, one of the problems with washed up wood is it is often too wet and heavy to lug home. Interesting about the sea sponges, I have seen fragments of these and assumed they were egg cases of some sort but didn’t know what.

    Reply
  2. Linda Robinson

    Always interesting to see what the strong tides have washed up. Round the coast in Overstrand it’s the same , lots of bits of wood and other interesting things to look out for and collect .

    Reply
  3. westdeanie

    I find lots of the “metal things” on the West Sussex Coast Debbie and can tell you what they are if you are interested! No big tides here – it is all very quiet and useless for my beach combing projects! Best wishes Helen

    Reply
  4. Alison Schwabe

    I always make sure I have at least my phone camera with me when I set out anywhere really- not for the calls, but for seeing and wanting to record something inteteresting. There’s always something REALLY interesting the odd day I forget it!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s