Cape Henlopen, Winter 2018

Last updated January 6, 2018



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Day One | Day Two

Lisa A. invited Norma, me, and her other friends to join her in looking for young seals at Cape Henlopen State Park.

Some of the group arrived on February 24, 2018 but Norma and I were in Washington, D.C. with Daphne that evening exploring the urban jungle. Daphne found a dead rat which she found particularly intriguing. So instead, Norma and I joined the group the following morning.

Day One, Saturday, February 24, 2018

We arrived at the park visitor center where I saw a bird feeder that was also quite popular with the squirrels. See first photo. Inside, a park naturalist gave us an introduction to seals in the area.
Seals are showing up along Delaware's beaches, where they are commonly seen resting on the sand or rocks from February through April.
- from Sleepy seals make the most of Delaware's beaches

Next, we drove a short distance to the Point and then walked on the Delaware Bay side. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on this side so we left Daphne in the car.

There were about 25 in our group. All 50 of our eyes were looking for seals and about half of us had binoculars. Unfortunately, we did not see any. Perhaps it was because of the thick fog. Or maybe there just weren't any to be seen. But we did see some other stuff.

We found a few strings of egg cases from knobbed whelk. See second photo.

There were hundreds of periwinkles in some of the shallow, low tide areas.

Not everything I saw was something I could this thing in the third photo. Not sure what it could be. It was soft, almost like a sponge. But it didn't look like photos of what I'd expect a wild sponge to resemble. Any guesses as to what it might be?

After not finding seals on the bay side, Norma and I went off on our own to the Atlantic Ocean side. Dogs are permitted on this side so of course we brought Daphne. Since it is winter, there was hardly anyone else out on the beach and we felt comfortable letting Daphne run off leash. She enjoyed all the new smells, running on the sand with her ears flopping (fourth photo), and seeing the ocean (fifth photo).

After lunch at Rehoboth Diner, Norma, Daphne, and I checked in at AmericInn in Rehoboth Beach because it is dog-friendly. It is a nice place and there were quite a few other dogs there too.

That evening, we met up with Lisa and her friends for a potluck at their park cabin. Despite all the running around on the beach, Daphne still had a lot of energy so I ran with her in the cabin loop. She got a lot of attention from all of Lisa's friends.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Day Two, Sunday, February 25, 2018

The following morning (February 25) was much like the previous day but in addition to fog, it also rained. Not a good day to be out. But Norma and I did get a chance to look for seals again on the bay side near the Point. Again, we didn't see any. But like yesterday, we found other stuff that held our interest.

We saw an Asian guy with a spade fork digging for razor clams, aka Atlantic jackknife clams. See first photo. I tried to speak to him but I don't think his English was very good. Later, we saw several other Asian people who were speaking their native tongue and carrying more spade forks. I assumed they were also there for the razor clams. At home, I read that this animal is quite popular in Asian cuisine.
...they are popular among Chinese, Thais, Japanese and Koreans, and are grilled for tapas in Spain and are prized in Italy.
- from New York Times - A Skinny Clam That's Big With Chefs

I had never heard of razor clams before but I'm guessing if we had this on the west coast, my parents would have spent some time digging for them too. Instead, I remember them searching for Pacific Gaper (Tresus nuttallii) which they called horseneck clam.

Norma found a Rubbery Bryozoan.

The fog was a little lighter than the previous day and at times we could see the silhouette of the Delaware Breakwater East End Light.

We found several pieces of Northern Star Coral (second photo). These
do not contain much in the way of photosynthetic algae as tropical corals do to provide a polyp's food. Instead, the coral has developed to become a filter-feeder, just like an anemone, a related species. Without the need for light, Northern Star Coral can survive in the cool, low light and frequently murky conditions of the North Atlantic where tropical corals would die.
- from Thanksgiving with Northern Star Coral

Daphne did well on this trip. She didn't have an accident in Lisa's cabin or the motel but she had two (the day isn't over yet) once we got home.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.