Sunday, January 9, 2011

The day the beach turned blue

Just last week I visited the beach on a whim and as I wandered up and down the shore I was amazed at the number of blue bottles that had washed up creating a huge bed of blue bubbles. It was like nautical popping paper there were just so many.

Normally I steer very clear of anything that resembles blue bottles at the beach (the result of a nasty childhood sting) but I was so fascinated by this phenomenon that I couldn't stay away. While there were thousands of bluebottles ranging from tiny shriveled blue airbags to clusters of tentacle dragging monstrosities there was also an array of other blue critters washed up on the beach that I had never seen before. There were small hairy blue disks that shared the same brilliant blue as the bluebottle (but without the scary stingers) and small spiral shelled creatures that spat out a vivid indigo coloured liquid when you poked them (and i poked many to see this exact response again and again ... probably a bit cruel now that i think about it).

While there were many blue creatures on the beach that day I was amazed to find that any subsequent seaweed that was washed up with these animals was also dyed a bluish tinge. It was as if the animals had passed some of their vibrant colour onto any other sea debris that came into their path as they took the trip from ocean to shore. Seaweed that I know to naturally be a dull muddy green was a dark vivid turquoise and strands of sea grass was spotted and streaked with blue patches.

I know that Tyrian Dye (a rich royal purple dye) was derived from sea snails and used to naturally dye cloth in ancient times. So the creatures of the sea have long been a source of that rare and rich blue/indigo dye colour that is so difficult to achieve in natural dying. Perhaps I have stumbled across some rare sea dying bath on Sydney's northern beaches. I have never seem this occurrence before and I don't know if I will see it again but I was very glad to have wandered along the beach that day and seen the beach turn blue.

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