Jessica Winder has a background in ecological studies in both the museum and the research laboratory. She is passionate about the natural world right on our doorsteps. She is enthusiastic about capturing what she sees through photography and wants to open the eyes of everyone to the beauty and fascination of nature.
She is author of 'Jessica's Nature Blog' at https://natureinfocus.wordpress.com.
Jessica has also extensively researched macroscopic variations in oyster and other edible marine mollusc shells from archaeological excavations as a means of understanding past exploitation of marine shellfish resources. She is an archaeo-malacological consultant through Oysters etc. and is publishing summaries of her shell research work on the WordPress Blog called 'Oysters etc.' at http://oystersetcetera.wordpress.com
'Photographic Salmagundi' at http://photosalmagundi.wordpress.com is a showcase of photographs and digital art on all sorts of subjects - not just natural history.
I been looking out some specimens of oyster shells that I collected from modern oyster beds on the south coast of England in the early 1980s. Way back in the early to mid 20th century, the hulls of boats were often coated with anti-fouling paint containing Tri-butyl tin (TBT). It was discovered that seawater contaminated with this chemical had an affect on some marine invertebrates. One of the noticeable phenomena was the way its presence caused the shell layers and chambers of the imported Pacific oyster (Crassosrea gigas) to wildly proliferate. Shells do in fact thicken naturally with age anyway – but in shells affected by TBT the rate of thickening is abnormal. Ultimately this unusual thickening prevented the oyster from opening up its two shell valves to feed and thus caused death of the organism.
A lot of research has been done regarding the affects of TBT on oysters. Laws have been introduced banning the substance in anti-fouling paints. The specimen illustrated in this post (with the images showing the same shell from various perspectives) is probably a rare survivor from the era when such abnormalities were fairly common. Nowadays, proliferation in shell growth of this type is more likely to be caused naturally and not chemically induced.
Once upon a time the ancient palace at Knossos on the island of Crete was made of smooth white blocks of gypsum with polished surfaces that gleamed in the sunlight. The effect of weathering over the centuries has stripped away the surface of the building blocks and created rough textures and patterns of sharp edged furrows where acid rain has dissolved the stone as it runs over and down the masonry. The gypsum blocks mimic a phenomenon called rillenkarren found on a larger scale in limestone landscapes all over the world. These erosion patterns in the landscape are known as karst topography. I previously photographed an example of karst topography with rillenkarren in the Queensland outback in Australia near the old mining town of Chillagoe.
Apologies for the quality of these pictures taken way back in 2009 with my first digital camera. I just came across the images as I was sorting my photo collection. I took them on a holiday to Rethymnon on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean. At the time, I thought the strange patterns in the stone walls of the old Venetian fortress were part of the rocks themselves. Locally the bedrock is described as crystalline limestone. Looking at the pattern and texture now, I am not so certain. It looks more like something that has been caused by the weathering process. I am thinking that maybe over the centuries since the construction of the wall, the limestone has dissolved in rain water and the calcium has recrystallized in this way between the large and small rocks that make up the wall. This has in a way reinforced the wall by further binding the elements together. I don’t know whether the walls were originally built as dry stone or whether they incorporated mortar. The crystal formation seems to be acting as a mortar now.
I have seen something similar to this phenomenon on my beloved Rhossili Beach on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. I will fish out some photos for comparison.
I am familiar with the commonly occurring horizontal stripes of rocky shore zonation where organisms are distributed between the tide levels according to their tolerance of exposure to air – but I wonder what influences the distribution and arrangement of different species of seashore creatures to result in the irregular patchwork pattern as found on the intertidal rocks at Fall Bay in Gower. The sloping flat surfaces of the limestone strata can be covered with a complete encrusting layer of mussels, limpets, and barnacles, organised by colour, shape, and size to make a patterned carpet.
Thick mats of seaweed wash ashore on beaches along the Jurassic Coast. Dead seaweed is often automatically viewed as horrid, unsightly, and a nuisance – but if you pause and look, there is beauty in it. There are many types of seaweed to be discovered in the masses on this strandline. Their fronds intertwine in a kind of accidental natural weaving. Each species has its own characteristic shape, texture, and pattern. Their combined presence forms greater abstract designs of infinite variety, the individual fronds making strands or threads as in a tapestry. The puckered patterns of the crinkly Sugar Kelp stand out as the most decorative features of the assemblage. The colours change from deep olive brown to golden yellow and cream as the algae decompose. The textures range from leathery to satiny, from slimy to crispy depending on moisture content. Opaque and hardening on exposure to air; or translucent and soft when floating in shallow water rock pools.
The rocks at Dog’s Bay in Connemara, Ireland, are part of the Galway Batholith. In particular they are composed of the Errisbeg Townland Granite riven by faults and many dikes containing other younger intrusive igneous rocks. The juxtaposition of the different rock types is a phenomenon marked by contrasting, colours, textures, and patterns. The whole rocky terrain has been levelled off and smoothed by ice sheets and reflects many glaciation features.
Feely, M. Leake, B.E., Baxter, S. Hunt, J. and Mohr, P. A Geological Guide to the Granites of the Galway Batholith, Connemara, western Ireland.Geological Survey of Ireland, 2006.
Shallow Water Tidal Ripple Patterns 1-3 Photographs of natural patterns created by reflected sunlight on the crests of minor ripples in clear shallow seawater lapping with the incoming tide around the island of Burry Holms at the tip of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. Here shown in negative format to highlight the intricacies of the natural designs.