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Beachcombing - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Beachcombing. Maia McGuire, PhD Sea Grant Extension Agent. Beach zones. Dune Berm/backshore Wrack line/strand line Foreshore Swash zone Nearshore/breaker zone Offshore. High tide I I Low tide Subtidal. Backshore. Ghost crabs. Wrack line.

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Maia McGuire, PhD

Sea Grant Extension Agent

Beach zones

  • Dune

  • Berm/backshore

    • Wrack line/strand line

  • Foreshore

    • Swash zone

  • Nearshore/breaker zone

  • Offshore

High tide



Low tide



  • Ghost crabs

Wrack line

  • Often created during storm events

  • Seaweed, debris

  • Amphipods (beach hoppers)

  • Sea beans, seashells

  • Other “treasures”

Sea beans


  • Any of a number of seeds that are adapted to germinate even after spending a period of time floating in water

  • Mostly from tropical plants, many from vines


  • Phylum Mollusca

  • Class Gastropoda

  • Classes Monoplacophora, Polyplacophora (primitive)

  • Class Bivalvia

  • Class Scaphopoda (tusk shells)

  • Class Cephalopoda


  • Generally have muscular foot, calcareous shell secreted by the mantle, feeding organ called radula

  • Larvae are often planktonic veligers


  • “Snails”

  • Head with eyes on tentacles

  • Usually relatively active/mobile

  • Usually coiled shell into which animal can retreat

  • Includes sea slugs

  • Grazers or predators

Egg collar

Moon snail (“shark’s eye”)

Operculum (“trap door”)


  • Shell has 2 (hinged) valves

  • Adapted to burrow in soft sediments

  • Most are filter-feeders

  • May be attached (cement, byssal threads), burrowers/borers or free swimming


  • Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish, Nautilus, Spirula

Other “treasures”

Crab shells

  • Moult or dead? (i.e. will it stink when I get it home?)

  • Male or female?

Polychaete worm casings/tubes

Sea anemones

Sand dollar/keyhole urchin

Purple sea urchin

Margined Sea Star


Sea Stars

Common Sea Star

Asterias forbesi?

Sea cucumbers

Mermaid’s purse (egg case of clearnose skate)

Stingray barb


  • Portuguese man-o-war

    • Don’t touch!

    • Associated companions—”By-the-wind sailor”, “blue buttons”, purple sea snail, man-o-war slug, man-o-war fish

Cannonball jellyfish

Moon jellyfish

Swash zone

Live critters

  • Coquinas

  • Augers

  • Mole crabs

Sharks’ teeth

Marine Debris


Synthetic Sea


To see a world in a grain of sandand a heaven in a wildflower,hold infinity in the palm of your handand eternity in an hour.William Blake

Where does sand come from?

  • Erosion of rocks (on land)

    • NE Florida sand is silica-based; comes mostly from mountains of NC

  • Formed by marine plants/animals

    • Shells, sea urchins, etc.

    • Corals

    • Calcareous algae (macro- and microscopic)

Sand colors

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