Saturday, May 19, 2012

The sixth luminous thing...

Couch, Karen J, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a bivalve. Isn't that a lovely word? All those soft, sultry sounds, bees and vees and els? My friend Melissa told me she googled "bivalve new jersey" and right away I thought "clams mussels oysters" and wondered if they have a lot of those in there, but Melissa told me it's actually the name of a town on the northwest edge of the Delaware Bay. Bivalve, New Jersey, is the home of the Delaware Bay Festival and a tall ship built in 1928.

Who knew?

My friend Melissa is going to be near Bivalve or maybe Ventnor (Monopoly!) or possibly Cape May at the end of June, where she is going to look at thousands of red knots devouring baby horseshoe crabs.

Red knots are not bivalves, rather they are a sort of medium-sized sandpiper that breeds in the arctic and then flies 9000 miles to the end of South America for the winter and then flies back again, stopping to eat along the way. Besides the baby horseshoe crabs, red knots eat bivalves and sometimes spiders.

Horseshoe crabs aren't bivalves, either. Bivalves are those tasty mollusks I've always loved to eat—clams mussels oysters—filter feeders with hinged shells that typically bury themselves in the sand or anchor themselves to a rock. I'd really like to see thousands of red knots in New Jersey devouring bivalves by the carload but I'll be in Nova Scotia, devouring bivalves myself. Nova Scotia—in particular the Bay of Fundy—is also a migration stopover for shorebirds, some two million of them, some of them red knots. I'm sad I'll miss the red knots in Nova Scotia, but I'll be thinking of them, picturing the sheer volume of them and the amount of food they must need to eat to fly 9000 miles.

I'll try to leave them a few bivalves.

Bivalve. What a lovely, tasty word.

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