The recent stormy weather has brought patches of black sands all along the beaches.
A variegated scallop shell on the black sand
Sometimes black sands are caused by oil or coal pollution, but these black sands seem to be solely made from smashed up sea shells and their filmy black coatings. They are, in fact, just a very very thin coating on the surface of the sands.
These black sands are “clean” – they don’t smear or smell
Black sands, Penrhos Beach, Newborough
Amongst the black sands are huge numbers of intact sea shells: whelks, razors, scallops, otters, mussels, oysters… and these in turn are attracting lots of gulls and wading birds to enjoy the feast.
Mermaid’s purses are the egg cases of certain sharks and rays.
Yesterday was stormy all day with gale force winds driving the tide up the shore. This mermaid’s purse was still intact. It probably belongs to a nursehound (aka greater spotted dog fish) – which, confusingly, is a type of cat shark (Scyliorhinus stellaris). But this is one egg that won’t make it.
The pale, bobbly egg cases of the common edible whelk (Buccinum undatum) look more like some kind of seaweed than something animal.
Whelk and other shells
Shells were the main thing washed up by the storm:
Thick trough shell with small cockle
Along with all the whole, undamaged shells, were lots of chippings of nacre from oyster shells, making the whole bleach glint in the sunshine.