High tide and waves on Good Harbor Beach left beautiful sand caligraphy | chorda filum seaweed #GloucesterMA

Also known as  bootlace seaweed, mermaid’s tresses, mermaid’s fishing line, dead man’s rope, and

Sea Whip: Chorda Filum resembles a long whip which can be from 10 to 70 cm long and is very deep brown. it grows in a long strand from a disc holdfast. It looks much like rope or cord, and hence its name. It is found in the sublittoral area or often washed ashore after heavy wave action. It ranges from new Jersey to northern Labrador.” Sarah Fraser Robbins and Clairice Yentsch, the Sea is All About Us, 1973. Chorda filum was not present when I wrote about seaweed on Long Beach after the 2016 fall Storm Hermine.

What a dreamy, atmospheric and wide open beach this Easter morning. Prior high tide reached more than half way into post and rope refuge sites for the piping plovers, though plenty of stretches of dry sand moguls remained. The birds were foraging at the water’s edge.

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Dead seal on Long Beach

Gray vistas spanned the beat of life and death in nature and prompted basic questions about shelter and what do you think happened here?  We stepped over a seagull’s still and headless body and a fury of feathers. Seagulls were fighting over the remains of a sting ray we thought was a horseshoe crab. They didn’t want to see the dead seal. Was it the same seal we saw resting yesterday, the seal my son was relieved to report he saw dip back into the sea? Maybe, I said. A passerby asked if I reported it to a wildlife agency. Enough nature for one morning, my sons turned home to shoot hoops. We heard the sweet sounds from piping plovers, someone raking seaweed, and joyous chatter from a family of 4 swimming before the coming storm.

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tired seal at Long Beach this afternoon and sandpipers all day

Everyone is staying far away from the seal and it blends in with the sand from a distance.

This morning there were scores of busy shore birds. (And more bounding dogs off leash.)

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Post storm Hermine: see the sea of seaweed and mosses on Long Beach

During the last days of summer, the sands at Long Beach shift to form a ledge that we affectionately call the ‘August shelf’. The slant is a challenge walking or running and a ramp or jumping platform if the tide is right.  Children engage in all manner of parapet building and collapsing. The ocean remains warm and the waves can seem bigger. These marks –annual gifts from nature– gently nudge us to fall. This year, as a result of tropical storm Hermine, there is a bonus shelf of seaweed brought in by majestic tumultuous waves. Don’t miss a fantastic chance to inspect species common to Gloucester, Cape Ann and the East Coast. Seagulls and clothing pop against a uniform blanket of red.  From a distance, the deep color of the seaweed seems the natural inspiration  for the architectural details of Cape Ann Motor Inn.

Look closely as there are so many species intertwined and clumped together teeming with texture and color! Be inspired to create: the Cape Ann Museum includes volumes of pressed seaweeds and mosses. Learn more: Isabel Natti did the algae plant drawings for The Sea is All About Us, a pioneer book on local marine life and shores by Sara Fraser Robbins and Clarice Yentsch. Visit Maritime Gloucester to learn about life at the shore. Garden: a friend collects some seaweed for her beds. Eat: I haven’t tried making my own seaweed salad but I have eyed Irish moss pudding recipes. Pudding anyone?

Irish Moss pudding:  1 cup (dead, rinsed, cleaned, possibly soaked) moss with a quart of milk in a double boiler for 15 – 30 minutes, strain out the moss. Add sugar to taste, and optional flavoring (citrus, coffee, vanilla, green tea, whatever you like). Pour into mold and refrigerate or blend a health drink. The consistency is thicker relative to time.

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a few seaweed examples I teased out from the pile

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