Seaweed Stained and Nestled In. Photography and Text by Keith R Wahl

April 12, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Seaweed Stained Clam Shell at Rest 

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Seaweed Stained Clam Shell at Rest 20220322 850_5818Seaweed Stained Clam Shell at Rest A seaweed stained clam shell at rest on Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, Rhode Island

Clam Shell Resting in Sand

Clam Shell Resting in Sand 20220322 850_5791Clam Shell Resting in SandA clam shell resting in sand on Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, Rhode Island

Early Sunlight on a Shell in the Sand

Early Sunlight on a Shell in the Sand 20220322 850_5821Early Sunlight on a Shell in the SandThe early sun shines on a shell on Narragansett Beach, Narragnsett, Rhode Island

When shells finds their way to the beach shore, that does not mean that the shell's journey has ended. In fact, often, the shell's journey has only begun.

The primary composition of sea shells is of calcium carbonate crystals. Calcium carbonate is one of the most important materials on earth. It crystallizes into chalk, shells, and rock structures. Mollusks use calcium carbonate to make biominerals such as pearls, seashells, and exoskeletons. These biominerals incorporate proteins in the crystalline matrix. In turn this converts the weak calcium carbonate to a hard, durable material. This means that the shells will be with us for a long time; even crushed they become a part of the beach sand.

But calcium carbonate also takes pigment from other materials well. So as the shells have the waves roll over them on the incoming tide, seaweed often rolls in too. The seaweed has its own carotenoid pigment and may carry the pigments of microalgae as well. There may even be some photosynthetic bacteria in the mix. The seaweed will cover the chalky shells (worn from rolling in the surf). In this process the shell acquires these pigments, staining them.

So continues the shell's peregrination.


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© Keith R Wahl, Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keith R Wahl and Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery with appropriate and specific direction to the original.