Have a look at these balls that we found during a recent beach walk. Aren't they funny looking? There were several of them washed up on the beach and at first we thought they were some sort of sea cucumber, but when we asked a local fisherman he told us they were algae. Once we got home, I quickly started trying to learn more about them. And eventually, thanks to the internet, I was able to determine that our beach walk discovery is codium bursa. According to this article it is a slow growing, stress tolerant type of algae that requires very little nutrients to survive and grow to such an impressive size.
The green, squishy beach balls were an interesting discovery, but they also got me thinking about more than just ocean plants. They are also made me think about how we get information. My first instinct is to turn to books and these days that usually means opening the car door. Since we spend most of our weekends exploring the island and stumbling upon new-to-us creatures and plants, our van seems to be the place where most of our local field guides reside (along with all sorts of "stuff"!). We have recently acquired some good wildflower and animal books for the Mediterranean region, but we are still searching for a good ocean/shore/shell guide (if you know of one for the Med Sea, please share!). After making that initial identification, we then head to the library for more information. These days our library access is pretty limited because the non-fiction section is very small. This means we spend a lot of time doing research via the internet which is a wild and wonderful quagmire of a place. I am sure I am not the only one who vacillates between being impressed by all of the info and at other times feeling a bit overwhelmed by it.
So here are my questions for you:
1) What are your favorite, always handy field guide/ nature books?
3) What are your favorite websites for researching nature finds (besides the Magnifying Glass, of course!)?
4) And does anyone else out there feel like they are driving a book mobile? If you seem to have a lot of books in your car, how do you keep them organized, safe, and yet still within easy reach for little hands? We use cloth book bags jammed between car seats, but I have to wonder if there is a better solution.
***We like the Golden Guides (nice, portable, kid friendly size) and Pocket Naturalist laminated tri-folds that are easy to carry on hikes. And our all time favorite field guide is Florida's Living Beaches. Although the title specifies Florida, we have used it all over the South East coastal areas. It's well organized, has pictures next to the descriptions,full of interesting tidbits, and it has never let us down. Sadly, none of these guides work so well for us now that we are living in Italy, but if you are in the States I highly recommend them.