Beach flotsam & jetsam

Tail-light Squid Shell (Spirula spirula), Wild Guide to Moreton BayAustralian beaches are iconic, and although seemingly lifeless, they contain many marine animals adapted for living in or on the sand, some capable of extensive periods of exposure to the air; others minute and nearly invisible, living between sand grains. More obvious to beachcombers are those animals washed up on beaches, dead or alive, driven by the persistent cycle of tides, wind and waves, especially after stormy weather and high seas. Mankind’s oldest contact with marine life in fact was this ‘flotsam and jetsam’, ranging from microscopic jellies and molluscs to dead vertebrates such as seabirds and occasionally whales. Sometimes these creatures are easily recognizable; other times only parts of them are intact, leaving beachcombers bewildered as to what they once were.

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