Steph & Larry have led Jean, at just one day old, straight to the surf. Many of us do the same with our young’ins. Parents are often anxious to introduce their children to the surf, to share a life’s passion, and are disappointed when they show fear. I believe the first factor in being comfortable playing in the surf is simple: height.
It’s all about scale. It can be tough for adults to remember, and to see, exactly what a wave looks like from the perspective of a baby. Experience helps, but height makes the real difference.
For our local PIPL though, there is much more at stake than a good vacation, a lifelong passion, and some amazing memories. Baby Piping Plover need to feed on wermz down near the water (fancy term: “ITZ” or “Inter-Tidal Zone”) as often as possible if they are to grow. The same place we like to splash, play, and look for sea glass is the Piping Plover’s preferred place to nom-nom (fancy term: “Foraging Habitat”)
If we are to truly share the beach with these adorable locals, we need to share the ITZ. We’re not used to looking at birds along the ITZ as fragile creatures just one meal away from death. We don’t even notice them we’re so busy having fun. They’re birds, we reckon. They can fly somewhere else.
Baby PIPL don’t fly. They can only run. And on those tiny legs, they can’t get very far very fast. They can’t grow when they expend all of their hard won calories running away from you and me. It’s a real problem and a huge part of why our local animals are struggling.
Next time you’re at the beach, watch and treat the ITZ as sacred ground. Look at it as the Acme (TM) or the ShopRite (TM) for our animals. And keep watching. I promise you will discover an entirely new world.