Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hurricane Drift (oil on canvas 8 x 8 in) Sold

On 11 August 2014, Fred went out with Don McAlpine and Mary Sollows to Grand Point of  New Brunswick's Grand Lake, to search for specimens of Lampsilis cariosa that might have been thrown up by Hurricane Arthur. 

This was (before our surveys during this Bio-blitz) the one known Grand Lake location of the Yellow Lamp-mussel,  which prefers sandy bottoms, mostly in rivers. It was at this spit of sand and fine gravel that the species had been taken from the lake in 2001.

I've always found beach drift exciting as a subject for painting, and decided to do
this one in oils. The pair of
shells in the centre are Lampsilis cariosa. This sample of drift was collected by Fred 5.4 km east southeast of Clarks Corners, New Brunswick.

When Hurricane Arthur went through New Brunswick on 8 July, it blew down lots of trees, and put out Hydro to much of the province for some days, but it also threw thousands of Unionid mussels up onto particular stretches of the shores of Grand Lake, causing relayed telephone calls about the resulting odor (one can read that the odour of decaying freshwater mussels is the scent maximally offensive to the human nose) to eventually reach the museum. Whenever we introduce anyone to these “largest invertebrate Animals” we emphasize the way in which the common species may be very abundant, while rare species may live among them as a minuscule fraction of the total population, and here we had a situation in which millions of the common species were thrown up on the beaches, providing the hope of finding the rare species among them.

Identified shells
At Grand Point Fred, Don, and Mary found thousands of Elliptio complanata (Eastern Elliptio), Anodonta implicata (Alewife Floater), and Lampsilis radiata (Eastern Lamp-Mussel), as well as a few L. cariosa, and then went a couple of kilometres north, to a site they'd visited before, where the biggest kill had been reported.

Don and Mary collected samples in random quadrats on the beach there, while Fred went NE past the massive drifts of shells & rotting along the beach, looking for L. cariosa and the other uncommon species Leptodea ochracea (Delicate Mucket). He went about a kilometre along the beach, finding a few of the rare species, and making waypoints to measure the extent of “normal,” “light,” moderate,” and “heavy” mortality along the shore, until he came back to a steep sandy/gravelly beach at corner of an angle in the shore, and found a patch of hurricane-washed drift on little terrace, 1 m above current water level, which included some snails and many juvenile Unionid shells.

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What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?