Directly ahead of Dungeness there are salt marshes, which are an important part of the ecosystem on the western side of the island. The marshes fill and drain each day along with the tides. In the first photo, behind the horses, you can see how the land transitions from grass into mud flats and then saltwater and cord grass.
As we kept walking and reached the mud flats, I noticed the ground beneath my feet was literally crawling with what appeared to be small, scurrying bugs. My first thought was oh lord, spiders! And it turned out I wasn't that far off: they were fiddler crabs. Tons of them!
Past the mud flats, there was a boardwalk to cross the marsh and continue on the trail toward the beach on the eastern side of the island.
The ranger told us we were lucky to arrive at low tide, because that is the best time to see manatees. As we crossed the boardwalk, we kept noticing a dark shape surfacing in the water out in the marsh, which turned out to be a manatee. It looked like it was enjoying a peaceful afternoon playing in the water. This was the point in the trip where I regretted bringing multiple lenses, because it was starting to rain and I was afraid to swap mine out during the mist. So I missed my chance for zoom photos of the manatee.
We had split into two groups when we arrived at the island, because three of us had bikes, and three were on foot for photos. I found out later that the bike group got to see the manatee up close and personal, a little while before we got there. It came right up to the edge of the boardwalk, and Andrew got a good video of it on his phone. You could see its snout and hear it breathing as it came up to the surface - so cool! It also had a giant white scar on its back from a propeller injury, which unfortunately happens all too often for manatees.
Even though our group missed the up-close manatee sighting, we made up for it shortly after, when we were crossing the marsh border and got a chance to see another amazing animal. A white deer!
I've seen a very dark, almost black deer one time before, and this was just as surprising and strange. Apparently these deer are called piebald (which seems odd to me, because at least for horses, piebald means having patches of white and one other color). This deer appeared to be mostly white, but it wasn't an albino, because it had brown eyes. So maybe that is part of the reason it's called piebald? Either way, it was a pretty incredible sight!
We also passed a small cemetery overlooking the marsh. It is the burial place of Catherine Greene, the widow of the Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, who also lived on the island for a while. Henry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, was also buried there (though not permanently).
With two editors in our group, we noticed that poor Charles Jackson had some problems with his tombstone: a word with a missing letter and some interesting capitalization choices. :)
Eventually this land became the Carnegies, but while Thomas Carnegie has a memorial plaque there, he was actually buried in Pennsylvania.
The Carnegies did use the cemetery to bury the Rikarts, the European tutors they had hired for their children.
They have a pretty nice view from their final resting place, don't you think?