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This was carved carefully from a block of matrix that fell out of the cliffs into the bay. Of the dozens that I found, this was one of the few that did not completely fall apart what it was separated from the surrounding sand. Though thicker than many shells in the same chunk of sand, they are extremely soft in this location and incredibly fragile. Donated to the Delaware Museum of Natural History.
Calvert Cliffs has been a popular place lately and I hesitated to post one more trip report this week, but as I look for other kinds of things, I decided I'd share. I have been told on several occasions that the cabins aren't worth much. All they have are shells. as @WhodamanHD put it, "If you like snails, go to Matoaka." Well, yes. That's why I love it so much. Last year I documented at 50 species of mollusk from one spot on the beach, and that's just what I was able to bring home! I returned to the for Independence Day week. and the cliffs did not disappoint! A landslide so recent that there was no sign yet of rain erosion stretched out into the bay just north of the beach. It's a treacherous place to linger and to traverse, but I was banking on the fact that this part off the cliff had done it's falling for now -- I hoped. In other spots, trees dangled precariously over the cliffs. If you ever doubted that this can fall on you, remember this -- I'm pretty sure that the sound of thunder I herd the night we got in was the landslide I worked all week. It only rumbled once, on a windless, rainless evening. The innumerable fallen trees I had to climb over to get to my favorite spot tell the rest of the ongoing story. If you feel a bit of gravel fall own your head, RUN. You were warned. That said, we all know this is an addiction, so I se too work with a screw driver most of the week, chipping away at the loose material at the base that was sitting in the nice, cool water most of the day. On a blisteringly hot day, there's no place I'd rather be! The fall exposed all kinds of things that most folks think I'm a bit silly to carve out - clams, snails, bryozoa, brachiopods, but I love the biodiversity of the place. I chipped away at big blocks during the day, until it got too hot, the tide too low and the snack supply diminished. I met the wonderfully astute @FossilsAnonymous out there and loved getting to talk to a fellow hunter who didn't think me crazy for chasing after punky sea shells. I wrapped everything in aluminum foil and carried them in a metal pail for the mile or so trek back to the cabin, where I had my make-shift lab set up on the porch. That's where the real work began. The day before we left was blustery after successive storm cells moved in and out the night before. The beach was totally rearranged from wave action. The bay spewed forth all kinds of things. My daughter and I walked the beach to find whatever had washed ashore. I found 3 Ecphora snails sitting on the beach right at the entrance. A little further down, we met another forum member, whose name I cannot find now in my tag options HI! We spoke for about 10 minutes while she and my daughter dove into the lapping waves to grab the shark teeth that washed up at our feet. How they saw them is beyond me, but they must have collected 30 between them while we were standing there! It's taken me a week since I got home to unwrap and clean most of what I brought home. It took me an entire afternoon of diving into half a dozen texts to identify the few shells that were new to me. One I can still only get down to a genus. (see comments!) So far, I've found at least 8 more species of mollusks to add to my count. My daughter brought home great gobs of shark teeth. We even brought back a few big bone shards, one of which I believe is a (rather rare for this section) dugong bone with scratches that might be a predator's bite marks. There is still a big blocks of matrix in the basement waiting to be carefully picked with the old dental and clay tools. There is still a pile of micro matrix to sift through that I carved out of the larger shells as I prepped them. It's been like opening gifts at Christmas. This Christmas may last for a couple very happy months!