In the beach flotsam there are often strays from the surface waters of the open ocean, reminders of the fact that most sea creatures are the prisoners of the particular water masses they inhabit.
Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea
Every day it’s different on the shore in Beadnell. The first day we arrived in Spring hundreds of tiny comb jellies littered the shoreline, glittering jewels in the sun (“The English writer Barbellion once said that a comb jelly in sunlight is the most beautiful thing in the world” writes Carson in The Edge of the Sea). I went back the next day with a bucket to collect some, to find they had vanished – perhaps devoured, perhaps dissolved. A lesson that has held true – each tide brings its own surprises from the depths, a different array of flora and fauna changing with the weather, the tides, the season… revealing the mutability of the sea, its wealths, its casualties.
Often flotsam is a roll-call of death – like the cavalcade of urchins, stripped of spines, baseballs with stitching patterns – found in every crevice and on each tide-line in March. In the summer, strange globe-eyed fish one evening, rapidly picked apart by gulls, crows and the beach population of detritivores. And this autumn at the high-tide mark what looked like a dead calf, gruesome skin folds, teeth bared, like a mummified peat-bog human remain. I took a photograph then discarded it – sometimes it doesn’t pay to look at death that close-up.
But the death march reveals the life of the sea, the unseen abundance of what lies beneath. Here is today’s flotsam, photographed just before sunset.