International Rock Flipping Day

Today is International Rock Flipping Day 2010!  I heard about this celebration of things that live under rocks a couple weeks ago and really wanted to participate, but there was just one problem: I live on an island made entirely of sand.  Where was I going to find a rock to flip?

Then I remembered: there is one place on the island that’s rocky, although it’s not that way naturally.  The beaches on the north end of the island are eroding, thanks to the longshore current, and the powers that be have seen fit to deposit rip rap on them in an attempt to stop this process.  “Rip rap” is a technical term for “chunks of rock.”  Perfect (although I won’t go into whether rip rap actually works, or whether beach armoring is wise)!

The first few rocks I flipped yielded only wet sand.

However, I persevered, switching to an area where the rocks were sitting in about an inch of standing water, a sort of minimalist tide pool.  There I started having better luck, turning up this small crab, species unknown…

…and a couple tiny brittle stars, flexible-limbed cousins of the sea stars.

At this point thunder started to rumble in the distance, and since I wasn’t dressed for rain and didn’t particularly want to be caught on the beach in a thunderstorm regardless I returned to my car.  See you next year for International Rock Flipping Day 2011!

10 replies on “International Rock Flipping Day”

Sorry I missed the chance to flip rocks today. On an orienteering course with my 8-year old, I had one try to turn my ankle and flip me, though. Anyway, you bring back memories; at the house where I grew up, there were laptop-to-briefcase-sized rocks scattered around in odd corners of the yard, leftovers from still-born landscaping projects, that my brother and I used to flip every couple of weeks or so. The best were the flips that peeled the roof off of whole colonies of ants, particular the big, juicy kinds whose tunnels and chambers could be seen and comprehended easily. I can’t claim to have been motivated solely by a naturalist’s curiosity, as step two usually involved the garden hose, but I suppose the spark of wonder flickered for at least a moment before a biblical deluge extinguished it along with the entire colony.

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