Rare Gulf Seashells in their Natural Habitat

Pictured: The Orange Shoreside Flanged Seaspazzler

After one of our crack investigatatory team-units disappeared from the known universe, we decided to take a beach vacation. Not to the same haunted beach they went to. We're not stupid.
On this entirely normal beach we found beach hobo and sand-person FPJEROME, who showed us beautiful and rare Gulf of Mexico seashells, whilst walking on semi-pristine beaches.

The Orange Shoreside Flanged Seaspazzler, pictured above, is a parasite with an interesting life cycle. It attaches itself to a passing bottle, capping it tightly, by growing a series of concentric shelled rings, that fit better and better with each growth cycle. The seaspazzler excretes a delicious sugary drug, addictive in the extreme, into the bottle, while allowing it's calcium carbonate to leak down the outsides of the bottle, coating it in a pattern, or "logo" that the next victim will find attractive.

When grasped by humans, in whom the parasite relies on as a host, the seaspazzler squirts millions of eggs into the sugary water, which gives it the appearance of fizz. The unwitting human drinks this delicious "beach beverage" and becomes host to the next generation of seaspazzlers, discarding both bottle and "cap," returning them to their natural cycle. The young form fatty deposits around the waist and stomach of the host, eventually sloughing off and crawling back to the sea as an amoeboid form.

Pictured: Alabama Stabcrab Sword

The Alabama Stabcrab, while not only found in Alabama, is centered around the Mobile bay, and the surrounding beaches and estuaries. While many crabs fight for mates and territory using their deadly natural claws, the Alabama Stabcrab fights with tiny chitinous sabers, with a string-grip, jousting and fencing on beaches and on the ocean floor. While many animal behavior scientists assume that only apes, crows, elephants, dolphins, dogs, bears, sea otters, mongooses, finches, badgers, warbles, vultures, parrots, nuthatches, gulls, owls, crocodiles, alligators, octopi, several types of fish, wasps, ants, and slime molds are truly able to use tools, the behavior of the Alabama Stabcrab is highly unusual in the crustacean subphylum. 

The vivid dances, with their back-and-forth to-and stab, is both a remarkable display and an incredible feat. They fight over things as varied as stalks of grass, mates, good holes in the sand, pieces of fancy seashells, and the use of certain pheromones.

Oftentimes, they lose their tiny chitinous sabers, which are a great find for the sharp-eyed beachcomber. In this case, a new sword will grow from specialized glands behind their "Scabbard Organ," which can secrete a new sword within a few days.

Pictured: Banded Circle Crested Birdblaster, with remains of last meal.

The Banded Circle Crested Birdblaster is a common sight on southern beaches. This wily mollusk is not content to merely filter feed, or go after small annelid worms like most of it's kin. No, the BCCB (as it is known in seashell circles) is known for going after bigger prey. Unlike such land-based bird-eaters as the Goliath tarantula, the BCCB needs no nest nor entrapment mechanism. Instead, it merely breaks apart in sunlight and fills birds with it's seed. The seed fills the birds, who must eat more and more to gain sustenance, even as the bits of the BCCB grow. Finally, the birds explode mid-air, raining down green seashells such as the one pictured above.

Pictured: The Brown Tubular Burnswaggler

The Brown Tubular Burnswaggler requires human foot traffic on it's beaches in order to survive and reproduce. After mating, the males store the fertilized eggs in their reproductive organ, which violently detaches. The mechanism for this is a chemical reaction so intense that it chars one end of the penis, explosively launching it to the surface, where it can wash ashore.

There, it mimics a cigar. Decades of turbocharged evolution have given the tail end of the detached penis a hint of flavor, mainly regret and the sea. A wandering beachcomber will take the tip of the brown tubular burnswaggler, and attempt to smoke it, and then throw it down onto the beach, where nothing will touch it, assuming it to be a gross old cigar, letting the Brown Tubular Burnswaggler reproduce in safety.

Pictured: The Red Chalk Floater

Milk. From cows. Nobody likes drinking it, yet we all must pretend we do, at the behest of the powerful COW LOBBY. Butter, chalk dust, and water, minus the flavor, that's what it is. Some loudly proclaim that only REAL milk (directly from the teat of the cow) is tasty, that humans are not, in fact, cattle, and therefore should not drink their milk, but all these claims fall to the wayside when you consider the life cycle of the Red Chalk Floater.

Not technically a marine species, this parasite lives in bottles of milk, taking nourishment from the oily helldrink within. It creates a plastic-like circle out of the plastic taste of milk, slowly migrating to the top of the jug as the liquid is never refrigerated properly, and then eating and replacing the lid when the milk comes out of the dank storage unit it haunts, and into the harsh radioactive light of the grocery store.

There, it waits for someone to touch it. The sides are sharp, and microscopically serrated. Each tiny edge contains millions of spores, launching into the victim at the slightest touch.

The victim, or host, will then crawl into the nearest patch of cattle pasture and die, the larvae of the Red Chalk Floater take to the cattle, and the cycle begins anew.

World Humanist Domination

The dank lair of reeking humanists, hidden from righteous eyes by dark magic and some tasteful ivy.

Rain had come, dampening my prospects of exploration both figuratively and literally. Dampness does not dissuade me, personally, but the camera doesn't like it, and people demand pictures.

The thought had occurred to me that I might just take pictures from earlier and use them in a current entry. However, it seemed dishonest, and I only partake in the utmost of honest, direct journalism as I get to the beating heart of truth. Usually, I discover that it's just some kids with a burning steel drum beating on it with their scavenged crutches, but sometimes it is the tattle-tale heart. Of truth.

It was in this overcast mood and weather that I ventured to the local branch of a nefarious global conspiracy - the Mississippi Humanist Association. Humanism. The mere word itself conjures up terrifying phantoms in the overwrought imagination. Secular folk, gathering in dark lairs, hiding their foul plots behind disarmingly unsophisticated websites, shady concepts such as "public service" and a general lack of diabolism.

Finding the secret lair was difficult, given the high-tech nature of the security that these secularists deployed. There was a lock, and a door, and a secret knock. Well, it was a knock.

"Greetings!" They greeted me at the door in their entirely nonreligious apparel. My keen senses immediately scented a weird odor, some exotic narcotic, perhaps?

"There's hummus." The ringleader said. "And pita chips. They're baked."

Baked! I scowled at this hideous affront to my tastes.

"What's the primary pernicious plan?" I asked.

"Well, we're working on a blood drive." The ringleader said.

"Blood! Blood!" I howled, eyes wide with this brief taste of the global power these Humanists undoubtedly wielded. "Rivers of blood! Geysers! Sanguine waterfalls submerging the faithful!"

The woman next to me gave pause, clearly astonished by my innate grasp of their fiendish and ungodly plot.

"We got a few pints last time, and we learned to coordinate it so that people who give blood regularly aren't locked out because they gave too recently. Are you alright?" 

"Yes, I, just, uh..." I offered everyone beers from inside the sleeve of my robe. This went over well. 

"So, uh, what other malevolent masterpieces are in the pipeline?" I asked, sipping my beer. I was drinking directly from the can. 

"Oh, the Adopt-A-Highway thing. That's almost done." Another woman spoke up, referencing papers I can only assume were written in blood, though it would have had to have been blood inserted into the cartridge of an inkjet printer. I imagined that task to be incredibly difficult. "The only thing left is..."

"The mind controlling sign technology?" I asked. They stared at me with growing concern. "Hacking into traffic signals to cause red-asphalt style carnage?"

"The sixty-seven dollars for a highway sign..." The ringleader said, trailing off as though, at any moment, I might start making sense.

"Why are you wearing a robe?" One of the women asked.

"I thought we wore robes?" I tested this explanation out, and found that even with my own bias, it was unacceptable. No one else, for instance, was wearing a robe, even though we were in a fairly sporty apartment, the sort of apartment one might well wear a bathrobe in.

"Are you some sort of spy?" No one asked. I may have asked it to myself, but despite the fact that no one asked it, I felt the urge to respond.

"My religion is my own business! I've fallen into too many rivers and that means I'm baptized!" I shouted, recalling the smattering of insane justifications the jabbering old Seventh Day Adventist had blathered at me while trying to drown me back in 2007.

"The River knows all! Listen to it!" I yelled, heading for the door. "You'll never take me alive, thought-police!" I grappled wildly with the uncooperative doorknob (undoubtedly designed as some sort of Humanist Plot) before throwing the door open.

"Wait!" The woman behind me cried. "Did you bring a science book? We're trying to help a local science classroom build a library!"

I threw down my weatherbeaten copy of Charles Ellet Jr's "Report of the Overflows of the Delta of the Mississippi River" like so much chaff and fled into the night.

Before long, I reached the river, my concealed kayak and supplies in position. Jackson was forfeit. I headed down my beloved River towards the Gulf of Mexico, with not a doubt in my mind that the humanist hounds were nipping at my wake.

Seen here: Wake. Not seen here: Demon Dogs.