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Ferris Jabr
Sandscript: A Beachwalker’s Guide to Ripples, Trails, Dimples, and Other Curious Markings A beach is a text written by wind, wave, current, and creature. To read it we need to learn its hybrid language.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
When a wave crashes on the sand a sheet of frothy white water, known as swash, surges forth, then recedes. This ebb & flow creates V-shaped patterns called rhomboid ripple marks. When swash encounters an object—a stone, a shell—it scours the sand around it, forming crescents.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
As swash comes in, it forces water and air down into the sand—the beach holds its breath. As swash recedes, the beach exhales: water and air escape, creating a variety of pits, blisters, holes, rings, and volcanoes.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Higher on the beach, wind speaks louder than water. Windblown grains of sand leap about; they saltate. When they smash back into the beach, they fling other grains into the air. Over time the repeated vaulting and settling of sand creates ridges and troughs—ripples.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
When wind, wave, and currents interact they often author especially complex and beautiful ripples.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Some creatures write directly upon the sand. This is the trail of a small crawling organism, perhaps a snail, wandering in search of food.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
When the wind flattens and jostles certain well-rooted plants, it sometimes traces arcs and circles on the sand, as though practicing geometry.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Sand bubbler crabs, which live in the Indo-Pacific, feed by filtering the beach through their mouths, swallowing any nutritious plankton and extruding pellets of sand. In the process they ornament the shore with beaded mandalas.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Other creatures inscribe from below and within. Burrowing organisms, such as molluscs and insect larvae, can form webs of sinuous, slightly raised conduits, so easily washed away. Embossed subtext. An emblem, perhaps, of the beguiling language of sand.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Photo credits: Plant markings : James St. John, Flickr & Sand bubbler crab: Marco Wo All other photos by me
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
This thread was inspired by a walk on the beach with a wonderful group of writers, and informed by several scientists who graciously and cheerfully replied to my random email and photos with detailed expert analysis 💚🌊🐚🔍
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Xyz Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Lovely 😊 beautifully written too -
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Mite Mite 🇨🇦🇲🇲 Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Fabulous presentation. Thanks for sharing.
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Ferris Jabr Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Seems like there might be a break/glitch in the thread right here for some people, so I'm going to add a link to the rest of the thread to help patch things up. Continue here:
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Susan Moran Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Thank you, Ferris.
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René McEvoy Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Thanks. This will make my beach walks more intetestin
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Lisa Wilson Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Wait! What about inside-out footprints? (When sand is compacted by our feet then wind blows away softer sand leaving raised prints)
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Lisa Wilson Oct 1
Replying to @ferrisjabr
Thanks for this!
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Rachelle Balez👩🏽‍🔬🧠🔬 Oct 2
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