February - April 2010
November 2009 - January 2010
October 2007
February 18, 2007


Photo Journal May and June 2010

Jo O'Keefe Copyright 2010. Photos may be used for educational purposes only. Contact me with inquiries.

May and June are whelk time. Triangles indicating that they are surfacing can be seen every few feet on the beach. Scores of people who had never seen a live mollusk are delighting in seeing the whelks and other mollusks such as clams, moon snails, Lettered Olives, Coquina and augers that are surfacing. This also is when visitors arrive in droves, ensuring pleasant encounters with both children and adults on nearly every walk and plenty of help when I need it.

Another feature of May and June are migrating stingrays. The ones I see each year are Cownose Rays, Rhinoptera bonasus. One person mentioned seeing red rays. Several persons told me that a small "stingray" was stranded in a tide pool. I suspect that it was a Smooth Butterfly Ray, Gymnura micrura. I was unable to find it.

New Sunset Beach Bridge
The portion of the new Sunset Beach Bridge crossing the waterway. Final girders were placed three days ago. Sunset Beach, NC, 06/07/10
Atlantic Giant Cockle
Atlantic Giant Cockle
Dinocardium robustrum
Dinocardium robustrum
Atlantic Giant Cockle, Dinocardium robustrum, Sunset Beach, NC, 06/07/10 -- This active mollusk put on quite a show.
Dasyatis centroura
Dasyatis centroura
Roughtail Stingray, Dasyatis centroura -- distinguished by spines and bumps down the back and onto the tail, Sunset Beach, NC, 05/19/10
stingray barb
stingray spiracle
This species has a single barb a third of the way down its tail. Although venomous, rays seldom strike unless threatened. Because they are bottom feeders, injuries to feet and legs often occur when people step on them. Rays flap their fins, disturbing the sand to expose small invertebrates to eat such as sea stars and sea urchins.
Behind each eye stingrays have a spiracle to breathe in oxygen. This is important because they rest on the bottom of the ocean, often beneath sand. Water is expelled through gills on the lower side of the ray.
Jellyfish -- many of this species are washing up along with Cannonball jellyfish and some Comb Jellies. Sunset Beach, NC, 05/15/10
whelk egg case
Knobbed Whelk egg chain with eggs visible in end capsule on left. Sunset Beach, NC, 05/15/10
knobbed whelk surfacing

Scores of live Knobbed Whelks, along with some Channeled Whelks, are surfacing. This occurs each May. A triangle indicates that a whelk is surfacing. Sunset Beach, NC, 05/15/10

prickly pear cactus
prickly pear cactus
Prickly Pear cactus with new pads in left photo, and buds, probably Opuntia engelmannii, Sunset Beach, NC, 05/16/10
baby sand dollar
Sand Dollar found in sea grit, Sunset Beach, NC, 05/03/10 -- this is the actual size of the sand dollar, under 1/2 inch wide
sea drift
sea grit
Sea Drift composed primarily of worm tubes, probably Mesochaetopterus, a member of the family Chaetopteridae. Sea drift is light and contains fragile shells such as tellins and Green Jackknife Clams. Sunset Beach, NC, 05/16/10
Sea Grit, composed of minute shells and shards of shells, contains many newborn and unusual fragile shells.
Nothing in my yard has been trimmed this year, including the frost-bitten leaves of this Sago Palm, Cycas revoluta. It's a jungle out there. While inspecting my yard this morning with a landscaper, we noted this pollination cone on -- of course -- a male Sago Palm. Sago Palms are not true palms. Above is a close-up photo of the pollin on the 20-inch-tall and 5-inch-wide cone.