Sometime this year, we were at sunny Florida, visiting one of our favorite beaches – the beach at the Washington Oaks State Park at Palm Coast. While many visit the adjacent garden with its beautiful roses, it is the coquina beach and rocks resembling a mini Grand Canyon that makes a walk here exhilarating.
Along the 1.2km or ¾ miles beach, you either walk on soft white sand or shells made of tiny clams – the tiny coquina that lives in the sand along the ocean’s edge. Over time, together with other organic matters in the ocean waters, they calcified into sedimentary limestone rocks.
Formed during the Pleistocene era (12,000 – 2.5 million years ago), the coquina rocks here is the second largest outcropping or visible exposure of bedrock in the world, and the largest along the Atlantic Ocean.
One interesting characteristic of the rocks is perfectly ‘sculptured’ cylindrical holes in many sections of the formation. While they might look ‘lifeless’, entire ecosystems thrive both on and around the rocks. They provide tide pools for snails and anemones, and different species of urchins and algae also rely on the rocks throughout their life cycles.
The beach is not just about the coquina rocks. It is a visited by different types of seabirds, taking a break on the sand.
Due to the coquina rocks, the beach is not very conducive to swimming, and hence not frequently visited by beachgoers. This makes the beach all the more attractive.