Dead Horse Beach, Salem, Massachusetts
The name Dead Horse Beach goes back to the 1850s when this site was far enough from town to be a good place to bury dead horses; today, it’s popular with beachgoers.
Weathered shards of blue mussels (Mytilus) give this sand its unusual texture and blue and white colors. The flattened profile of these grains reflects the shell’s sheet-like inner construction.
Blue mussels are common in the coastal waters of the North and Mid-Atlantic. They feed by filtering organic particles (mostly phytoplankton) from the water column. Mussels are an important prey item for lobsters, crabs, whelks, gulls and diving ducks and a popular seafood item on menus today.
A green sea urchin spine fragment sits just below center. Sprinkled throughout are mineral grains of eroded granite.