Yesterday, we went on our first Nature Day outing of the year. Our group has now grown to a staggering (to me) 141 families!!! But, we have had a lot of rain this week and we had a 100% chance of rain by 1 pm. So, we only had 3 families for our trip to the beach... and we all rode together in my friend's 12 passenger van.
When we got to Galveston Beach a little after 10 am, it was overcast, but not raining. We were surprised to see so much of the sandy parking lot under water! In fact, we were a little worried that the van might get stuck in the water. We saw one other mom with her 3 children, so we thought they might be new members. I went over to ask if she was with the homeschool nature group, but she said they were just skipping school. :-)
Here's a photo of the empty beach and the clouds. We stayed for about an hour and a half. For about 45 minutes, it was pouring, but it didn't stop us from having fun!
The water wasn't too bad and the kids went wading and built sandcastles since they had all been to our sandcastling "class" back in May. I was really impressed with the castles - one girl made a wonderful arch! I didn't get any photos because it started raining and I was afraid I'd ruin my camera. I'm checking to see if one of the other moms has a photo.
We did really encounter some neat nature. We found 2 different types of seeds that were really interesting. (I'm checking to see if the other moms have photos of these, too.) The kids also found a tiny crab and one of the moms had a net and they caught 3 fish! But, the neatest find to me was this little guy. It is the same critter as the first photo, but we washed him off. In the first photo, I thought his head was on the right and his tail was on the left, but we found out that the 'tail' is actually his antennae! In the above photo, he is upside down and you can see some of his 10 legs (some are sadly broken off, but yes, he was alive).
So, what is he? (And, in this photo he is facing to the right.) He's a type of crab - a mole crab (or sand crab or sand flea). He's a small crustacean found on the coast. They live under water in shallow sand near the shore. They have 2 antennae (we think his were stuck together) that usually 'feather out' to catch plankton in the intertidal zone. When you see bubbles coming out of a hole when the water recedes from a wave, you might have a mole crab 2-12 inches below that location! (I'll have to dig for some again sometime.) The boys had a big shovel and were building a sand castle and I guess that is how they found this wonderful creature, and I'm so glad they did!