Category Archives: Montauk

A Puzzle About Bones

Just after New Year (Jan 2014) we went for a walk in Shadmoor Park and ended up on Ditch Plains Beach.  That is where I found two vertebrae still stuck together by ligaments.  They were larger than human vertebrae, measuring 3-4 inches in the largest diameter.  A quick phone call to my biologist friend, Marguerite W, confirmed that these were mammalian bones and not from a large fish, like a shark.  Fish vertebral bodies (called the centrum) would be biconcave, as shown here. These were not.  Then, I had a phone call with a friend, Annie Sessler. She is a well known artist out here who makes beautiful fish prints!  Her husband Jim, is a Montauk fisherman.   ‘Some kind of whale’ or marine mammal was their opinion. Now I was really intrigued!photo[6] photo[5]Then I got this rare book from the Cornell Vet School library called “Whales of the World” by Spencer Wilkie Tinker (1988).  It describes in detail all 77 species of living whales on this planet and also a bunch of extinct species based on fossil records.
It was a stroke of luck that we could identify the vertebrae (which were stuck together) as C7, T1.  That’s the last cervical and the first thoracic vertebrae.  The thoracic vertebrae have an articular joint surface for a rib on either side.  All mammals have 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae.  Giraffe’s have very long ones.  Some animals have very short ones.  And sometimes the cervical vertebrae are fused together!  However, C7 in our case was not fused to either of its neighboring vertebrae, T1 or C6. The “common dolphin”  has fused C1-7, according to “Whales of the World”.   Therefore we did not think that these were vertebrae from the common dolphin.  In the same book, there is a photograph on page 39 of a side view of a cervical spine of the common dolphin.  To my astonishment T1 looked just like the T1 vertebra that we found!  So, we were thinking of a close relative of the common dolphin.

The size of the vertebrae we found suggested an animal slightly larger than a human (approx 75-200 kg).   Using this as a guide, I then focused on 8 species listed in the whale book, that live in the North Western Atlantic, at our latitude 40 N .   I googled which of these species had recently been spotted in the waters around Long Island. The list was now really short:

  • bottlenose dolphin
  • common dolphin (unlikely because of the fused C spine)

In particular, there were lots of sightings and on-line reports about bottlenose dolphins around Long Island.

Apparently there has been an epidemic due to a type of measles virus and it has killed hundreds of bottlenose dolphins in our waters (in the Long Island sound and around Montauk).   This species has apparently been migrating northwards as witnessed by the larger numbers spotted since about  2007.
Here are some links which I found interesting:

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Having been introduced to this species by their bones, I noted that these are in fact very interesting animals!  Bottlenose dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror!  They can use sponges as tools and transmit cultural knowledge across generations. Their considerable intelligence has driven interaction with humans.  I am now an official dolphin fan!

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Gold Ring, Diamonds and a Tatoo of a Cherry Blossom

In the summer of last year I met a young couple at an art fair in Montauk.  Anthony was an actor and Laura, an oncology nurse.  They lingered at my booth, then left… and then he returned alone.

Laura's tatoo

Laura’s tatoo

Anthony wanted to set up a meeting to discuss a custom ring and he wanted to surprise his wife!  My kind of man.

She had a full body tattoo of a Japanese cherry blossom tree. He wanted a gold ring representing a cherry blossom.  We met in the city at a coffee shop on the west side.  There were drawings first.

Drawings

Drawings

Then I set to work on a wax model.

wax model in the making

wax model in the making

A 5 karat black diamond in the rough was placed in the center and 5 trillion (triangular) diamonds were placed between the petals of the ‘flower’.

wax model with diamonds

wax model with diamonds

Anthony was involved at every step.  There were more meetings at the coffee shop.  About a half dozen meetings.

The model was approved and a gold ring was cast.

ring cast in gold

ring cast in gold

Then the stone setter went to work.  My Russian friend Oleg did this part.  His work is excellent.  Finally, the “finish”, a polished exterior and a roughed up organic interior representing the cherry blossom.  See the image of “The final product”.

Then came the suspense.  He would surprise her on a special occasion.  Would she like it?  I was nervous….  A week later the report: she was happy! And so were we!

The job took 4 months.  Great customers!  A fun experience.  This is how we do custom work.

The final product

The final product

40 BEACHES OF EAST HAMPTON

I was sitting at the kitchen table with my wife not too long ago, wondering how it was possible that I have lived here on the East End of Long Island for over 30 years and have not yet visited all the beaches of East Hampton Town.  So we made a vow to walk all 40 beaches of this town and record our observations on this blog!    We thought it might be useful as there are no in depth beach guides for this area (either on the web or in print) and, in the summer at least, this town is a major destination for beach visitors.

This is a series of 7 blog posts and they are each on a separate page -> check out the top of  the side bar or you can click here 40 Beaches of East Hampton!   You can also click on whatever beach you are interested in on the list below…. Just in case you are wondering…these are gorgeous beaches.

Take care, David

I Sag Harbor and Northwest Beaches

1) Foster Memorial Beach (Long Beach)

2) Haven’s Beach, Bay Street

3) Barcelona Neck beach

4) Northwest Landing Rd beach

5) Mile Hill Rd beach

6) Cedar Point Park beaches

II Three Mile Harbor and Springs Beaches

7) Sammy’s Beach

8 ) Maidstone Park Beach

9) Lion Head Beach

10) Kings Point Rd Beach

11) Gerard Drive, Gerard Point

12) Louse Point Beach

III Amagansett, Napeague and Hither Hills Bay Beaches

13) Barnes Landing Beach

14) Albert’s Landing Beach

15) Abraham’s Landing Beach

16) Promised Land and Lazy Point Beaches

17) Napeague Harbor Beaches

18) Hither Hills Beaches

IV Montauk Bay Beaches

19) Navy Rd Beaches

20) Culloden Point

21) Gin Beach

22) Oyster Pond

23) North Rd beaches

V Montauk Ocean Beaches

24) Old Montauk Highway – Camp Hero Beaches

25) Cliff Drive Rd

26) Ditch Plains Beach (including Rheinstein Estate Park & Shadmoor Park)

27) Montauk Beaches

28) Gurneys Inn Beaches

29) Hither Hills Campground Beaches

VI Napeague, Amagansett Ocean Beaches

30) Napeague Stretch Beaches

31) Beach Hampton

32) Atlantic Beach

33) Indian Wells Beach

VII East Hampton and Wainscott Ocean Beaches

34) Two Mile Hollow Beach

35) Wiborg Beach

36) Main Beach East

37) Main Beach West

38) Georgica Beach

39) Wainscott Beach

40) Sagg Main Town Beach