Friday, November 26, 2010

Anastasia Island

This barrier island is a short drive over from the city St.Augustine. The picture above was taken from the top of the lighthouse on the island, it shows the city off in the distance. Part of the island is nestled between the Mantanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean. In April 1942 the German submarine U-123 sank the USS Gulfamerica off Jacksonville Beach. It was discovered that the American boats were being fired at as they passed in front of the lights of the lighthouse, so during the war those lights were dimmed.. Our main goal in going over to Anastasia island was to see old Spanish quarry, which is now located in Anastasia State Park. The stone found here largely contributed to the building of the fort and settlement of St.Augustine. Presently there is not much to be seen in this quarry. Plants that thrive in disturbed areas have displaced the marine hammock that once covered this quarry. Coquina is the white rock that can be seen in the middle of the picture below. The picture was taken in what is left of the quarry. Many years ago the ocean came much further inland and left deposits of coquina (in Spanish the word means "tiny shellfish") in this area.
. We went to two beaches on the island and found piles of coquina rock formations.  When it is first quarried, it is soft and easily soft hewed into desired shapes. After it is allowed to dry it becomes very hard. It is calcium carbonate (leached from the shells) which cements the loose deposits of sand,clay and shells to form coquina.
 I took a close-up picture of the rock while I was walking the beach to show you how many shells form into the coquina. The stone can get up to 50 feet thick. The holes in those rocks made for some nice tide pools while the tide was out.
While walking the seashore I happened to look down at my feet as the tide was going out and was surprised the see the shape of a star appear in the sand. It was a beautiful starfish, and when I picked it up I saw little white feet wiggling on its underside, so I quickly placed it back in the water. What an absolutely beautiful creature, its colors of blue and gold were quite stunning. I don't think I will ever find walking on the beach boring!

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