Mostly when I walk the beach, I’m taken by the beauty of shells glistening in the sun after a wave’s retreat. Or the feel of the sand in my toes, the sound of the surf in my ears, the salt smell in the air. At times I’m reminded that all life requires nourishment. And that, as the old saying goes, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. The first new sight to greet me was I wandered the tidal river that makes a good path northward in one part of the beach, this morning, was the quite sad deceased turtle you see below. For those of us who love marine wildlife, especially sea turtles which are everywhere so threatened, it’s another sad loss. It also caused me to wonder what story the sand could tell: my photo didn’t capture all the claw marks, next to the turtle — but drag marks from many claws suggested that a battle led to the death of the turtle and its subsequent decapitation. I suspect a dog but can’t prove it. (I do not possess the skill of Legolas in the first chapters of The Two Towers, sorry to say…)
This initial, sad introduction to the harsher realities of life in the tidal zone here caused me to view later observations through a new lens: does the spiral shell with a smudge next to it represent a place where a mollusk lost its fight for survival to the teeth of a larger predator? What story is told by the crab claws scattered here and there along one stretch of the sand, with nearly the full shell of the now-ex crab just a bit further along? And then there are the humans, gathering their mollusks or collecting their fish. Or the deceased jellyfish which I at first took, from a distance, for a blanket or sheet that had been blown into the waves. All life requires food, and most life tries to avoid becoming food unless, like apples and berries, that’s how it creates future generations.
I can’t say that I *know* this, but my instinct strongly tells me that the pine trees planted along much of the coastline in Cox’s Bazar district are the result of a program to resist coastal erosion. They do not seem at all haphazard, but instead regularly spaced in the manner of trees I’ve seen on tree farms around the world. On a recent beach walk I chatted with a colleague, who at first said he didn’t much like the trees – after all they’re not the most beautiful of trees and they do shield the beach view from a distance. I pointed out what I thought it meant about mature, evidence-based government policy to use what is likely a well-chosen type of tree (I’m betting these trees tolerate sandy, salty and windy growing conditions quite well) used as a bulwark against rising seas in a nation that’s really quite at risk. One could compare that favorably to the mature, evidence-based policy-development skills of certain other nations or national leaders, could one not? 🙂