Tag Archives: crab

What DNA might have to do with a love for the sea…

The same visual comes to mind every time I find myself sitting on a beach in the southeastern United States. It’s spring of 1972, and my parents have sprung me from school to spend two weeks in the Florida Keys. Dad, a biologist, is spending a one- year sabbatical studying marine biology at Florida Presbyterian (now Eckerd College). We’re camping at John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo. I see my dad sitting perfectly still on an aluminum and web chair on the beach. As I approach, he whispers to walk carefully. That’s when I see the blue crabs skittering in circles around his chair. He grins at me. I join him.

The memory ends there. I don’t think we caught any crabs — just sat and observed them.

Genetics were my dad’s thing and if he was around, I’d ask him a few questions.  Sadly, he died after a two-year bout with cancer 16 years ago. For example, do genetics play any part in the fact that the minute I begin to smell the ocean, my heart slows and I feel instant relaxation? Is there something in my Pannabecker DNA that propels me to the beach at 5:30 a.m., where I will walk literally for hours at low tide?

During a recent vacation on Tybee Island, Georgia, I was walking along the beach early in the morning when I heard a dad talking with his young children about the blue crabs in their bucket. He saw me watching, grinned and beckoned me over to look. Suddenly, I was transported back to 1972 and there was Dad grinning at the blue crabs, his toes curling in excited anticipation.

Unfortunately, I had no camera with me on my walk on Tybee, so the blue crabs are just stored in my memory. But that same morning, I discovered my “find of the week” — a huge horseshoe crab, its insides having been devoured by some other ocean creature. IMG_0514[1]IMG_0515[1]

IMG_0534[1]IMG_0529[1]None of my other finds during the week quite measured up to the crab, and I’m wise enough not to pick up a jellyfish. And what’s a trip to the beach without a search for the perfect pretty shell?

Genetics? Maybe. A simple case of inherited love for the sea? Probably. Whatever.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

What I did on my summer vacation

On my summer vacation, I…

….learned that not all jellyfish are created equal….only after having avoided them for about two hours. A young woman taking care of four very active 8- to 10-year-olds who were carelessly picking up the jellyfish and flinging them onto the beach, informed us that they were not the stinging kind. And how did she know this, we asked? “Oh, I grew up here and you just get to know the difference.” The next morning the beach was strewn with dead jellyfish.

Beached jellyfish

….discovered that sea turtles are NOT slow. It’s nesting season on Tybee Island, so it’s lights out after dark since artificial lights draw the turtles toward land and predators. Anyway, a smallish sea turtle kept coming up out of the water onto the beach one afternoon and the young woman (see above) was concerned that the turtle wasn’t old enough to nest. We helped her capture the turtle until the experts arrived, then learned that it was in fact, an adult terrapin who had nested in previous years. She was actually trying to nest, so we freed her to go about her business.

….ate LOTS of fresh mahi and crab. And hush puppies…real, southern hush puppies.

….remembered why it is crucial to run early in the day on Tybee. The Georgia sun can be brutal.

….relearned how to ride an upright coaster bike. After two years of riding only a recumbent tricycle, this was a challenge and there were a few unbalanced moments. Once we got the brakes adjusted, travel by bike was the ONLY way to get around.

…. found that sleeping on the beach is best done under an umbrella.

Beach dude

….watched dolphins playing about 100 yards offshore. First, you see a fin moving slowly across the water. Suddenly the dolphins are playfully diving — showing off for their audience.

…. watched some gorgeous sunsets — best from the Back River Beach.

Sunset on Tybee

…. took a long, early morning walk on the beach during low tide, and stared, fascinated, at the pelicans standing at the far end of the sand bar. Later in the afternoon, five pelicans flew overhead in formation. Only by watching them in flight, can one appreciate their amazing wingspan.

…spent an afternoon in Savannah — a beautiful, old city — but breathed a sigh of relief as we left the city behind and felt myself relax again as Tybee came back into view.

…. remembered how nearly impossible it is to get the sand out of one’s bathing suit.

…. remembered that if one takes a water bottle to the beach, one will inevitably take a slug of water only to realize that sand had somehow infiltrated the bottle….thus resulting in a mouthful of gritty sand. Yum.

…. had to ask — at least once a day — what day of the week it was (the true sign of a relaxing vacation).

…. found not one, but five cottages that most certainly meet my requirements for a retirement home.

…. documented a whole slew of ideas for continuing to make our house seem more of a “beach house”…including a shell-embedded toilet seat.

Lucite toilet seat with embedded shells

*To be continued…