Wednesday Wisdom: Sarah Kay


Find more great ocean and conservation quotes here and please feel free to share with your friends and family!

Also, ask away! If you have a question about something you found on the beach or just something you’re curious about just send an email to or tweet us!

Don’t hide your head in the sand

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure meet up with Jen Miller, a freelance reporter, to discuss some of the little known and finer attributes that the often pesky ‘sand’ brings to our beaches. For instance, did you know that all beach sand contains quartz? The odd thing is that the land surrounding some beaches doesn’t contain any quartz. Read her article from NewsWorksNJ to find out how the quartz arrives on some shorelines, as well as why sand is an integral part of the dune ecosystem that we rely on to protect our homes from big storms and waves.

Please feel free to email with any questions, comments, or suggestions for posts.

Best of 2011 from BCS

I hope everyone welcomed the New Year with style and grace! Here is a fun list to recap the “Top 12 most popular posts written by Beach Chair Scientist in 2011”:

1. It’s as easy as A, B, Sea: Weddell Sea
2. Happy as a clam
3. Beach trivia
4. 5 facts about fish farming
5. Basics on renewable energy
6. 13 apps for your day at the beach
7. Blue Sway – Paul McCartney
8. Can you write with a sea pen?
9. The Majestic Plastic Bag – Part IV
10. Linda Thornton, an inspiring aquaculturist on a mission for sustainability
11. How deep is the ocean?
12. 30 reasons to be grateful for the ocean


Two eggs and a side of glasswort, please

Salicornia virginica

Image by stonebird via Flickr

While I was trolling the aisles of Whole Foods the other day, I stumbled upon a familiar salt marsh plant known as glasswort (Salicornia virginica). When I would lead early morning nature walks along the beaches in Florida this marsh herb was a plant I enjoyed finding! Here’s the interesting anecdote I’d share with my sunrise hikers.

Glasswort, also known as poorman’s asparagus or marsh samphire, can be eaten boiled or pickled in vinegar. Early settlers in Florida cooked and pickled glasswort because of its high salt content. The salty stems are the edible part of this plant.

For centuries, glassworts was collected and burned to create an ash rich in soda (impure sodium carbonate). The ash was then baked and fused with sand to make crude glass, consequently, provided reason for the glassworts main common name.

Another reason this plant got its most popular common name, glasswort, is that when someone steps on a bed of this plant, it sounds like they’re walking on broken glass.

Glasswort is common along beach dunes and salt march flats on the east and west coasts of the U.S. It is easily recognizable with its cactuslike bright green stem, tiny red flowers, scale-like leaves. It is particularly well suited to live along the coast because it has a thick waxy skin that protects itself from the salt water spray. Another glasswort adaptation to help in this rather harsh climate is the addition of vacuoles within their root cells that lock up to prevent salt from being absorbed through its roots. Glasswort is usually only 4-12 inches long and has a horizontal main stem with lateral branches. Be careful you don’t trip on this matted down plant!
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How to win a game of Survivor if stranded on a beach

DewberriesWhile I am not here to tell you how to form alliances, I can mention some edible seaside plants found along the Atlantic coast. These include: Sea rocket, sea lettuce, prickly pear, bull thistle, dewberry and winged sumac. You can eat the blackberries of the dewberry with milk and honey. For a refreshingly cool drink soak winged sumac in cool water for 15 minutes. Devour the sweet pulp of the prickly pear after you peel away the skin. Add the leaves of sea rocket and sea lettuce to a fresh seaside salad. Lastly, gorge on the stems of the bull thistle (of course, only after you’ve removed the thorns!).

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84th Street Beach

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), taken at ...

Image via Wikipedia

Gloria admitted to not liking Manny’s poetry on this week’s episode of Modern Family. Let’s see what my mother has to say about mine on this fine Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, step-mothers, mother-in-laws, dog moms and everyone that is maternally nurturing to anyone or anything!

The vast emerald sheet glistens,
Sending the summer daystar onward.
Gulls gawk at the disappearance of
Usual shoobie game to seize.

They begin to beeline west towards
evening barbeques –
Invading those who intrude
My seashore paradise of home.

Petite sandpipers scurry,
Enjoying the outstretched beaches
And the near solitude
As their own.

Waves wash over my feet –
Tingling the toes,
Cleansing away the remains
Attached during the journey
Across the sandy desert.

Ocean breezes produce
Whistling dune grass,
A soft symphony cherished in my ears.

On the horizon
A majestic great blue heron
Stands four feet sturdy,
A token of liberty
For the unilluminated prairies below.


A Few Lines from Rehoboth Beach by Fleda Brown

Dear friend, you were right: the smell of fish and foam
and algae makes one green smell together. It clears
my head. It empties me enough to fit down in my own

skin for a while, singleminded as a surfer. The first
day here, there was nobody, from one distance
to the other. Rain rose from the waves like steam,

dark lifted off the dark. All I could think of
were hymns, all I knew the words to: the oldest
motions tuning up in me. There was a horseshoe crab

shell, a translucent egg sack, a log of a tired jetty,
and another, and another. I walked miles, holding
my suffering deeply and courteously, as if I were holding

a package for somebody else who would come back
like sunlight. In the morning, the boardwalk opened
wide and white with sun, gulls on one leg in the slicks.

Cold waves, cold air, and people out in heavy coats,
arm in arm along the sheen of waves. A single boy
in shorts rode his skimboard out thigh-high, making

intricate moves across the March ice-water. I thought
he must be painfully cold, but, I hear you say, he had
all the world emptied, to practice his smooth stand.

Read more about this author here.