It being a lovely day yesterday, I stopped by the harbor to take in the view. Here’s the vista from Mayo Beach:
After a minute or so I noticed that there was some sort of large animal in distress just offshore. All I could see was a single dark flipper lifting out of the water and flapping about. I thought it must be another of the small cetaceans that beach themselves so often in the harbor at low tide (see here). I used my phone to take a low-res video:
(This is a really terrible video, but it’s that black blob popping in and out of the water in the middle of the picture. It looks much father away than it actually was.)
A fellow sitting on his porch nearby noticed this thing in the water too, and waded out in his shorts to get a better look. It turned out not to be a mammal at all, but a mola — a strange critter, also known as the ocean sunfish, that looks like a huge swimming head with one long fin on top pointing up, and another on the bottom pointing down. Here’s a picture of one:
As you can imagine, shallow water is a problem for these guys, and it turns out that the large swift tides in shallow Wellfleet Harbor often catch them unawares. (Regular readers may recall I found a dead one on the same beach about a year ago, as documented here.) This hapless mola was in a similar pickle — caught in about eighteen inches of water, it was unable to get vertical enough to swim properly, and so was just floundering along sideways, making very little headway.
I hope it got out of there eventually.
Meanwhile, as I was standing on the beach I noticed something else flopping about, this time on the mud-flat just a few feet away. I went over for a look, and saw that it was a razor clam on the move. For the benefit of those of you who have never seen a razor clam in full flight, I shot a video of that, too.
Here it is:
There you have it, readers: nature red in tooth and claw.