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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Summer's Orange
From a fiery Strawberry Moon at the summer solstice to our brightest sunset so far this summer, orange seems to be a color that has found my lens several times over the past weeks. (And those adorable baby red foxes from my last blog are really orange, not fire-engine red.)

The one brilliant sunset stands out especially because we typically don’t see that many vibrant sunsets in summer, thanks to high humidity and what is often an obscuring haze/cloud layer right on the horizon. We have plenty of heat and humidity now, but nobody who was here for our record rainfall in late spring is complaining, not that I’ve heard anyway!

I’ve seen dragonflies of varied hues both in Duck and in my Colington yard and have one yellow/golden one to share with you here. Dragonflies can tilt their heads in a way that appears to signal curiosity and heightened attention, and that gives (to use human terms) the appearance of a wide grin. I love the behavior and try to time my shutter clicks to coincide.

Summer heat also brings its share of summer squalls and thunderstorms and I have some images to share from that side of early summer as well.

The rain of late spring actually delayed the emergence of our sea oats, which thrive in hot, dry conditions. Now that they have fully bloomed, the seed heads that are still showing their early green should soon take on the characteristic golden we see most of the summer and fall.

As pretty as moonrises and sunsets are, the most interesting orange I have encountered in July was not in the sky but at the water’s edge. From Nags Head to Kitty Hawk I’ve seen tiny, clear Somethings with bright orange spots, almost the size and shape of candy corn! At first, I thought the Somethings were Salp, cousins to jellyfish, but without stingers. Depending on what life-stage they are in, they have a wide variety of appearances. I thought I had seen the stage where long strands of young Salp called aggregates, each genetically identical, had become dislodged and separated by the waves, washing up by the millions on shore. But I was wrong. Good thing I delayed posting this blog!

After seeing a post on Facebook by Jeff Lewis, I did more research. Our late July orange visitors were actually Naked Sea Butterflies, not cousins to jellyfish at all, but shell-less mollusks. (There is a shelled variety too, but these gelatinous creatures lack the shell). They are about the same size as the tiny aggregate Salp and also have similar color. And in an especially nasty case of sibling rivalry gone amuck, the Naked Sea Butterflies eat the Shelled Sea Butterflies. Both Salp and Sea Butterflies thrive in colder water and we had cooler (low 60’s) water right at the end of July, which brought the creatures to shore. If you want to know more, check out NC SeaGrant’s article found here: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/blog/2016/08/01/an-invasion-of-the-naked-sea-butterflies/

One aspect of writing this blog that I love is, while I may start the month with a general idea of what to be on the lookout for (like bird migrations or sea oats blooming), I am almost always surprised by something I could never have anticipated.

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Prettiest summer sunset I have seen so far this year. From the Duck Boardwalk outside our SeaDragon Gallery!

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Our June Strawberry Moon, coinciding with Summer Solstice.

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These fiery waves are being lit by the Strawberry Moon on the first night of summer.

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Here is my dragonfly, looking joyous in my yard.

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We take a break from all the oranges for these Pelicans, gliding over green waves while a squall formed well to the north, giving beautiful, dramatic light to photograph.

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Another storm, moving well offshore by the time I went outside.

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Still showing green at the end of July, the sea oats nonetheless are a herald of summer.

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Here are some of those Naked Sea Butterflies.

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Sometimes the waves breaking were tinted orange with all of them!!

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Here is one close-up. Can you see its transparent "wings"? That feature is what gives the creatures the "butterfly" part of their name.

posted by eturek at 1:40 PM

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 428739 times

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