Daily Archives: May 24, 2012

Beach Mysteries

By Vladimir Brezina

On the beach on the northwest tip of Sandy Hook, under the skeleton tower with the ospreys’ nest…

On our last kayak trip to Sandy Hook a couple of week ago, after lunch under the skeleton tower at the northwest tip of the Hook, we went for a walk along the beach. And we saw a number of strange sights! Can you help us identify these?


1. Pirate treasure?

2. Crop circles, except in sand? A miniature bikers’ rally?

3. Pill organizer of the ancient inhabitants of Sandy Hook? (Their week—or month?—had 16 days, apparently…)

4. Tiny foxholes?


Updates, May 26 and May 28, 2012: We have solid identifications for at least three of these mysteries!

#1. Jim W. says: “It is the top of a ‘breasting float’, its about 4 feet deep in the sand.  They are used between the ships and piers at the passenger ship terminals.  You used to be able to see them rafted together in the empty slips, before the elevated highway was torn down.” Can’t do any better than that—thanks, Jim!

#2. This actually is one we had a pretty good idea about as soon as we saw it. And a number of our readers have come to the same conclusion. These are classic horseshoe crab tracks. Part of that beach consists of shallow basins that obviously fill up with water at high tide (possibly only an usually high tide) and drain again at low tide. And in these basins the horseshoe crabs clearly had a killer party! Their tracks were all over the place, some with dead crabs lying at the ends of them…

#3. Marcus says: “Number 3 is a section of a composite piling (they probably sawed it off after driving the piling to refusal). The white bits are fiberglass tension elements and the rest is an epoxy / plastic resin. It resists marine borers and doesn’t spall like concrete: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/engineering/geotech/pubs/04107/chapt2.cfm.”

#4. These are clearly burrows or holes made by animals of some kind, most likely insects or crabs. Fiztrainer suggests sand crabs (see comments).

So crowdsourcing really works! Without our readers’ help, we were completely stumped by #1 and #3, and not really sure about #4…