Tag Archives: Crab Derby

ANGUS crab

Day 3 of Beach Days

Today’s activity definitely took a toll on us — but our Dermit Rab made it all better.

Me and Aungus prior to the start of the race, 3rd and 4th from the right.

We woke up, ate, and swam to the edge of the thousand-feet-drop in the benthos (sea floor). On the way, the supposedly calm waters rocked us to differing degrees of sea sickness. In the water we went in all different directions with regards to the waves, on which we bobbed up and down while we looked in the deeper ocean for interesting life forms. One of the forereefs we explored was geographically filled with canyons of corals. Centuries of wave engergy shaped the current-day grooves filled with hard and soft corals, among other life forms. We observed an especially problematic species of fish, called the lion fish, camouflouging in the corals today. Their presence in this region, which is far from their native rainge, has caused up to 70% decline in native fish populations. Obviously, we speared them and brought them back to dissect, fry, and eat. Which is a prospect even the “vegetarians” are supporting.

In the afternoon, we quanitified the degree of biodiversity of Echinoderms (particularly sea urchins) in a protected and an unprotected marine area. Which means we spent an hour spotting and picking off the spiny sea urchins from dead corals and algae on which they are grazing. While searching for sea urchins, I saw two types of brown algae, specifically, they were two types of white-scrolled algae. One has a darker base and the other a lighter color, but both have a characteristic curly shape that resembles a scroll. In addition, we came into contact with Sargassm seadweed again, which is more or less impossible not to come into contact with due to their prevalence and distribution on the ocean surface. In addition we observed many blister saucer algae, both attached to corals and floating on the surface. Interesting, they too, like the Sargassum, are able to keep some air within their chambered body so that when squished air bubbles are released. Although they do not have a characteristic air bladder like the sea weed, these saucer algae had triangular bulbous organs to hold air.

In the evening, we had one of the best meals we’ve had yet — consisting of flan, spiced chicken, banana bread, lemon cookies, homemade bread, and mashed potato. After our lectures, we collected blue crabs and hermit crabs to race in the sand. Among 5+ competitors, one travelled in the opposite direction, 1 paused, and 2 finished close to each other. It seems like the large hermit crabs are the best for Dermit Rab. Also obvious that blue land crabs are not the best as they walk side ways and are prone to going to dark places to hide. Angus, me and Claire’s contestant, although big, did just that. :/

The communal nap I have been predicting and advocating for — also happened today! Our tiredness has come to an all time high, but with proper rest, i.e. communal naps, we seem to be a very resilient group.

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.