Watch out for that Prickly Pear

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Well first we had breakfast and it was a decidedly quieter even then that of the past morning. The full force of what had occurred the previous day broke the spirit of everyone in our party. Said spirit could only be resurrected with bacon and eggs. To be honest there were some strange condiments floating around the breakfast table. Sugar went on grits ketchup went on eggs some things people just don’t talk about. After breakfast everyone was a lot more chipper. We got all of the necessary equipment on the boat and pushed off. The trip to Shackle Ford Banks was less eventful then the trip back to the dock the previous day. We got better at driving around the surrounding area and learned which spots were shallow. When we got to the banks we were greeted by a small herd of horses and many pictures were taken. When we got on shore we looked for shells, and animals on the beach and surrounding beach/ marsh area. There wasn’t much in the way of life other then schools of un-catchable fish and whelks. However, we did end up catching a live horseshoe crab and we got to see it dig its way underground. Some fish were caught with subterfuge in the tidal creek bed. It was a team pincer maneuver. Then we walked back to the boat with the specimens and had an early slow lunch, which was pretty nice. After lunch we started the long, itchy, sometimes painful trek through the maritime forest and then the dunes. The maritime forest had poison ivy, tics, and holly trees that weren’t afraid to prick you. It also had an awesome live oak tree and it was shaded by the overhanging limbs and entangled vines. It was a trade off and decidedly better than the dunes. The dunes were hot and had the small prickly pear cacti. As long as you watched were you stepped you’d be OK and most of them were bright primary colors so it wasn’t so bad. We also got another good chance for photos because we wandered into a swale with two horses grazing close by. I think everyone felt relief when we finally made it to the other side of the Island and got to see the ocean from high on the dunes. From that height we could also look across and see the pink flag we left at the beginning of our crossing. On the beach we searched for turtle tracks and various interesting shells. We were unsuccessful in finding these, but we did come across a burrowed ghost crab and a washed up/dried out baby smooth butterfly ray. After this we made our way back through the dunes and maritime forest to get back to the boat. On our way back we came across a Black Widow spider under a log and an Anole lizard, which were of course collected and brought back with us. Our boat ride back was not nearly eventful as yesterday, but we did run out of gas! Thankfully our boat has a backup tank so we were quickly back on our way home. When we got back I think everyone ended up napping before a tasty dinner of shrimp and corn on the cob.
–Taylor DeMartini & Kristina Abarca

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