Day 11: Crab Derby

We started the day by going out on the boat to look at the outer reef. We spent all morning swimming around looking at the fore reef (without collecting data) which is outside the lagoon. We saw an eel, a few stingrays, lots of fish and lots of coral. It was really cool to see all the life. Scott caught a lionfish which is invasive here. We’re going to get to dissect and eat it later which I’m super excited about.

This afternoon was spent collecting sea urchins to estimate reef health in and outside of the protected zone. We found a bunch of a few different types, mostly reef urchins, slate pencil urchins, and black sea urchins. We timed how long we were looking for urchins to keep constant how many we were collecting. At the very end of time for the patch reef inside the protected area, I found an east indies sea egg.

It was 9.2 cm in diameter, two to three times the size of the other urchins. It had white spines and a black body. Its spines moved so beautifully when I picked it up and it stuck to me with its tube feet. I named it Jerry and it is my patronus. We took so many pictures with the urchins and the brittle stars we picked up. They were beautiful and cute and surprisingly friendly despite their spines. It’s really sad to think we may be the last generation to see the reefs like this.

We finished the day by spending a lot of time with my taxon (crustaceans). In the afternoon I saw a blue land hermit crab on top of a bush which was really startling. I’m sure it just climbed up through the branches, but anywhere off the ground still isn’t where crabs belong in my head.

After lectures, everyone went and found hermit crabs to race. We’ve been talking about doing a crab derby for days and it finally happened. Elena and I grabbed blue land crabs while everyone else grabbed hermit crabs from the compost area. We drew two lines in the sand and then let all the crabs go. Lots of the hermit cabs never moved or started walking in the wrong direction, but quite a few actually mored along in the race. Elena’s blue land crab, Rihanna, was way faster than all the other crabs, but it walked off the course and then hid under a building.

My crab, Angus, disappeared into the night. But three of the hermit crabs had a pretty neck and neck race to the finish line. Sami’s crab Alejandro ended up winning; we rewarded him with coconut. Every night we’ve been here it’s been stormy, which has looked pretty cool, but I really want to see the stars out here. I’ve heard (from previous TFBs) that you can see the milky way out here which would be really cool. Regardless, today was a pretty great day.

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