Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beach day and a science lesson!

     It's supposed to rain all the rest of this week, but this morning was decent, although cold, so the kids and I headed out to the head of Semiahmoo Spit to play on the beach. Playing on the beach around here is like playing on the beach at Auke Rec, for all my Juneau friends. It's a rock beach, covered in stones of all sizes, rubbed smooth by the waves, shells in all manner of condition, including our find of the day!
     Rachael had been scouring the beach for shells while Levi threw rocks in the water and I tried to keep Megan from sucking on the rocks she was looking at. She found a bunch of crab pieces and kept bringing them to me to hold on to. Then she discovered a whole crab!

The first crab Rachael found

Still life of beach finds

     This little girl of mine is fearless when it comes to stuff found on the ground. She is the one who rescues worms from the pavement and returns them to the grass. She found the rolly-polly on the bridge out to the beach and wanted to pick it up. And she had zero problems picking up what turned out to be a dead crab. I sat in amazement as she stared at it on the beach for a moment, before using a stick to flip it over to make sure it was really dead. Once she had flipped it back and forth a few times and was satisfied, she picked it up and brought it to me so I could see it too.
      Rachael set it down long enough for me to take the picture of the crab with some of the other shells we found, and then, to my surprise, she picked it up and carted that dead crab with her all over the beach! She decided to see if it would float in the water, which it did. She admonished her brother not to throw rocks near her and the crab because she didn't want it to get broken. Between handing rocks to Megan for her to look at, watching Levi throw rocks as far as he could in the water (and hoping the ducks had the sense to stay far away!) and watching Rachael play with the crab, I had an rather amusing time this morning!
      When it was time to leave, we made one more discovery--another crab body waved at us from under a big log. No surprise, Rachael ran over and picked that one up as well. We all looked at both crabs, comparing the sizes of the claws. Levi asked if we could look up crabs on the internet when we got back home. Hello science lesson! 
These are Dungeness crabs that Rachael found. The abdominal flap tells us the sex of each one. In this picture, the male is on the left, with the narrow abdominal flap, while the female on the right has a wider flap.

     I asked Levi to write something after he read about Dungeness crabs and here is exactly what he wrote:

   "We were at the beach today when Rachael found a Dungeness crab and here is something interesting about the crab. Female crabs molt right before she mates with a male. After that they prepare to have babies. The female crab lays eggs, but they remain unhatched for a few months, attached under her stomach."