Saturday, February 6, 2010

I think my favorite location that we've visited would have to be Raglan/Whale
Bay. First of all, I was beyond excited to know that I was visiting a world-famous
surf spot. Being a surfer myself, there was a certain kind of excitement that
built up for me as I walked down the hill and gradually caught glimpses of this
massive, black sand surfing beach. I think I actually exclaimed aloud "Oh my
god, this is the biggest beach I've ever seen!"
Not only did this spot appeal to me because I love to surf, but also because I'm a
geology major. Playing with the magnets in this black, magnetic sand was so
fun (and nerdy). I actually made sure I filled up the entire sample bag so I had
enough sand to bring home with me. I love to go to places where I can take what
I've learned in my geology classes and actually think like a geologist. I
immediately began to wonder where the nearest volcano was that produced this
amazing magnetic sand. I was also completely amazed at the grain size of
Raglan's sand. It was so incredibly soft and fine that whenever the wind blew,
gusts of sand blew with it. I just finished my surficial processes class, so I
started to think about the kind of weathering that had to have occurred to cause
the sand to be so fine. I was also really pleased to "read" this beach based on
what Art has taught us. Raglan was a perfect example of a dissipative beach
because it was extremely flat, exposed, and wide with lots of wave energy going
on. I got really excited when Art had us dig that giant hole so he could show us
the heavy magnetic mineral placers formed by storms. It made a lot of sense to
me because I've taken surficial and I was just really pleased to see what I've
learned in real life.
At Whale Bay, I was really interested in the type of rocks that all of the intertidal
species had made their homes on. I'm pretty sure they were just massive chunks
of vesicular basalt and I love when I get the chance to try and identify different
rocks. I especially love New Zealand in general because I've seen so many young,
igneous rocks here, which is a change to what I usually find on the east coast of
the States.
Some cool biology that I noticed at Raglan was these tiny purple shells sitting in
the sand. There weren't very many shells at all on the beach itself, so I was
shocked to see these tiny, delicate, bright purple shells sitting in the black sand.
There were tons of flora and fauna at Whale Bay. I was really happy to have
found the catseye turbo and the two kinds of sea stars. It's funny that the
cushion star was so cool and special to me and it's one of the most common sea
stars in New Zealand. Rocky intertidal zones are just some of the greatest places
to explore and every time I'm at one, I feel like a little kid again, climbing
around at Beavertail Lighthouse in Rhode Island.
I've had some really amazing experiences in New Zealand so far, but I think
Raglan and Whale Bay most successfully stimulated my inner coastal geologist,
marine biologist, surfer, and child.

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