Monday, September 21, 2009

Beachcombing: Sand Through My Fingers

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake - Auguries of Innocence


I’ve written about Beverly & Greg becoming psammophiles or sand collectors. The word psammophile can also be used to describe an animal that prefers to live in the sand ("sand loving"). I am sure that my two friends are truly missing the warm sandy beaches of Saipan so it is not too far fetched to call them as such. I’ve been collecting small samples of sand to send the two every time I beachcomb. So far I’ve about 13 samples and only missing samples from a few beaches on Saipan. Take a look at some of the samples:


HIDDEN BEACH

Hidden Beach is the northernmost Eastern beach on Saipan located in the village of Talofofo. It is a small pocket of a beach at the end of a stream. Most of the sand is composed of broken corals and shells.

SAN JUAN BEACH

DJ, TonTon & Laurina at San Juan Beach.

San Juan Beach is the most immediate beach south of Hidden Beach but the composition of the sand is quite different.

Look at it closely and you can see sizable silica crystals. Silicate rocks (SiO2, Silicon dioxide) like Quartz and Citrine, and carbonates like Calcite and Aragonite (CaCO3, Calcium carbonate) are quite abundant here to the delight of crystal hunters.


LAULAU BEACH
Black sand beaches on Saipan? Sure! I found a patch of black sand at LauLau Beach, Kagman close to where the dive cut is at. I’ve had the samples for more than 3 years thinking that they were mica (aluminum silicate). Mica usually forms in flakes but looking closely at the samples, the grains are clearly many sided.



I was using a dental scraper and noticed black sand grains clinging to the metallic tool! The sand was magnetic! The black sand in LauLau is magnetite after all: an iron oxide (FeFeO4). Magnetite is 72% iron and geologists have used their natural characteristic to align themselves to the North Pole to figure out the past movement of continents. This technique is called paleomagnetism.

There are also lots of silica crystals mixed in the Lau Lau sample as well. Sifting allows the lighter crystals to move to the top while the heavier magnetite to settle at the bottom.
Oooh! Crystals!
LADDER BEACH
Some Japanese islands are famous for their star sand and are marketed to the tourists that way. I noticed a star sand bloom a few weeks ago at Ladder Beach. Star sand are single-celled marine protozoans called foramineferans (forams for short). I often hear that there are more star sand at Long Beach, Tinian but I now believe that they are more common than we think on Saipan (I’ve seen them all over). All you need is a scrutinizing eye for their beige colored tests! Can you see the star sand? Look closer...

I'm pretty sure Bev & Greg will have nicer pics to share from their Leica cam!

COW TOWN BEACH
Go to Marpi Village, pass the landfill and follow the unpaved trail to Cow Town Beach. Here are my buddies Kevin & DJ from a few months ago. At low tide, you will see a patch beach that is full of star sand, broken corals, micro shells, and Marginopora to the left of the entrance.
I like to call the Marginopora, halo sand because of their disk shape. Marginopora like star sand are forams. Can you see the halo sand?
Here they are...
Okay! If all that talk about sand was boring to you, here is a cute picture of Hayden Lucas to make up. He is becoming quite a beachcomber and psammophile himself!

CRAB CARAPACE
I picked up a pretty crab head of what looks like a Carpilius convexus (Forskal, 1775) also known as the Variable Coral Crab. It belongs to the Xanthidae Family also known as the Coral crabs or Dark-fingered crabs.
Many Xanthids are poisonous. Sadly, I hear that they are eaten in some Micronesian islands to commit suicide.


STARFISH
I was surprised to see starfish in the shallow Saipan Lagoon. When I first saw one, I thought it accidental or misplaced. Then I found more. These are Linckia multifora (Lamark, 1816) or Spotted Linckia seastars. I often find them living in coral reefs rather than on sandy lagoons with sea grass. They are related to the much bigger and better known Blue Sea Star, Linckia laevigata (L, 1758). These stars have the habit of discarding an arm that often regenerates into a whole new sea star! Of course, we returned these animals to their respective spots unharmed with all their arms still intact.
Well, that was just a little story I wanted to share before I go to bed. I hope you enjoyed it and lets talk stories again soon. Take care and stay safe.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting Older...Eating More

My Birthday this year is a wonderful celebration with friends and food. It started at the office with breakfast. Yummy fried rice!
My awesome coworkers actually planned this secretly but dropped hints here and there that I should be avoiding any meetings in the morning. I played a practical joke on them and text messaged that I was taking a day off right before I walked trough the door. I didn't hear the exclamations of disbelief and disappointment but saw their faces all freaked out with the realization that I got them real good. Man, I think we laughed for a good 10 minutes! Well, at least I did! Thank you, guys! That was sweet of you all.
Tun Fred joined us too.
Before lunch I wanted to see Agingan Point and the post typhoon waves. I got soaked!

You can't really see it but I was drenched in my B-Day ensemble. I had to go home to change.

Ahhh...the womenn who love me!

Thanks everyone for a wonderful day!

Ti napu.

The Birthday Beachcomber

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tropical Storm Choi Won 15-W: Not Too Bad

Tropical Storm Choi Won 15-W was upgraded to a typhoon yesterday afternoon at about 4:00 PM. Thank goodness that it mostly cleared Saipan as it intensified during its northwesterly movement. I woke up this morning and heard on the radio that we were already downgraded to a Condition 3 which means "all clear" and that I needed to report to work.

I only saw a few trees, like this palm tree at the hospital that went down from the high winds.

View from Navy Hill: Can you see the angry sea?
The ponding basin at the hospital was filled to the brim with water.

I gotta thank the boys for helping with the boarding up and the boarding down of our office. Here's Perry and Darrel.
Here's a video clip of the wind and the rain from Navy Hill.

video

There should be some interesting beachcombing in the next few weeks after the weather has calmed. Can't wait to see what washes ashore that can be added to my collection. I hope all of my friends on Saipan are safe and kept themselves dry during the storm. Take care now.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tropical Storm Choi Won 15-W

In the next 12-24 hours, this could become a typhoon threatening the Marianas. This is from NOAA:

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED

TROPICAL STORM CHOI-WAN LOCAL STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TIYAN GU

416 AM CHST MON SEP 14 2009

...TROPICAL STORM CHOI-WAN APPROACHING THE NORTHERN MARIANAS...

.AREAS AFFECTED...

THIS LOCAL STATEMENT PROVIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS FOR PEOPLE IN THE MARIANAS AND SURROUNDING

WATERS OUT TO 45 MILES.

.WATCHES/WARNINGS...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING AND A TYPHOON WATCH REMAIN IN EFFECT FOR

TINIAN...SAIPAN AND AGRIHAN.

.STORM INFORMATION...

AT 100 AM CHST...1500Z...TROPICAL STORM CHOI-WAN WAS CENTERED NEAR

LATITUDE 15.8 DEGREES NORTH AND LONGITUDE 148.4 DEGREES EAST.

THIS IS ABOUT 275 MILES SOUTHEAST OF AGRIHAN

210 MILES SOUTHEAST OF ALAMAGAN

190 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF TINIAN AND SAIPAN

245 MILES NORTHEAST OF ROTA AND

295 MILES NORTHEAST OF GUAM.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE 70 MPH. TROPICAL STORM CHOI-WAN IS

MOVING WEST AT 7 MPH.

.SITUATION OVERVIEW...

TROPICAL STORM CHOI-WAN CONTINUES TO INTENSIFY AS IT APPROACHES

THE NORTHERN MARIANAS. HEAVY RAIN AND HIGH SURF WILL POUND LOCAL

REEFS AND BEACHES. HIGH WINDS WILL BLOW AWAY LOOSE OBJECTS LEFT

OUTDOORS.

.PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

FOR TINIAN...SAIPAN...AGRIHAN AND ALAMAGAN...NOW IS THE TIME TO

RUSH TO COMPLETION PREPARATIONS FOR THE PROTECTION OF LIFE AND

PROPERTY. SMALL CRAFT REMAIN IN PORT. CLOSELY MONITOR NOAA WEATHER

RADIO OR OTHER LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS FOR OFFICIAL STORM INFORMATION.

LISTEN FOR POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE FORECAST AS DESCRIBED BY YOUR

LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE AND LOCAL EMERGENCY

MANAGEMENT.



Most of the schools have announced closure until further notice. There was a call for all "essential government workers" to report to work and secure workplaces. I've often wondered who is essential and who is not. Oh, well. Be safe all and see you soon!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, September 7, 2009

138: Fired up...Ready to go


I haven't had a television, cable service and satellite/digital service for that matter, for more than 10 years. Today at 4 in the morning, I woke up to my President talking about "firing up" the Health Care Reform debate in AFL-CIO's Labor Day Picnic live! There has been talk about him losing momentum and support about the debate. During the speech in Cincinnati, Ohio he thanked the laborers, investing in the middle class, talked about options, and called out his critics stating that beyond the criticism, what their their solutions? There has been a vigorous debate about the issue, but "now is the time to decide."

Like a lot of people, tackling health care disparities was one of the issues that was important enough for my consideration to support his presidency. When I go back home, I'll have to rely on the Tribune, Variety, radio and the Net to get updates. I felt the power of live media, in my President's moving speech. I am going to miss live television and sharing in the moment. "Ready to go!"

In other news, Tila Nguyen a.k.a. Tila Tequila, social networking celebrity of MySpace and Twitter, has stopped tweeting! Well, I am sure that this is a temporary setback to her social media activities due to an alleged attack by an NFL player.

People really follow this stuff no matter how important you may or may not see the issues to be. Mass media is powerful.

Ti napu.


The Beachcomber

138: Always on my Mind

"Guam, you're always on my mind" goes the famous song by Jesse Bias. I'll be on Guam for a few days of work. Finishing my Atlanta posts will have to be delayed as I train, present, and visit family and friends.

Today is a holiday here on Guam, as it is as well as on Saipan. My friend Babs is close to delivering and went to a clinic this afternoon because of some tummy pain. Labor pains? Maybe. Well, it is Labor Day after all! Good luck, my friend!

Babs and Ashlynn

I still cant get a hold of my father, but my friends will be getting me soon for a home cooked meal Guamanian style! I cant wait to see all of them and the additions to their families. Oh, how I missed you, Guahan!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

PS. They put me in this fancy room at the Royal Orchid Hotel in Tumon which is very nice and the picture of Tumon Village is from their site.