This morning Julie and Caroline get up with me and walk north along the beach. It is a beautiful morning and the water is warm. The tide is low, but coming in. We watch the coquina clams, and I share with Julie my discovery of yesterday.
We reach turtle nest 30, then turn around and head back for the condo. They go back upstairs, while I cross the road and head south, in search of my rained-out fiddler crabs.
It’s amazing how still you have to be to get these crabs to come out of their holes. I lay on the pavement, watching, holding my camera in position, watching the sandy mud flat that is washed by Boca Ciega Bay at high tide. Now, with the tide still fairly low, I can clearly see the little round crab holes. But no crabs. Yet.
Then, finally, my patience pays off. The crabs come out and begin sifting through the sand for little bits of food. I snap a few pictures, barely breathing. The crabs are hard to see, but if you look in the top center, you can barely make out his claw. I’ve cropped this section below, though it’s pretty blurry.
What can I say? I’m new to this whole photography thing.
Fiddler crabs are pretty amazing. The males use those large claws to communicate to females and to warn away other males. You’ll see them, once they’ve adjusted to your presence, waving those claws in the air for all to see. Another example of sexual selection, since clearly they’re making themselves more vulnerable to predators by making such a show of themselves. Oh, what we men to to attract women!
Even more amazing is this: if a male loses a large claw in a fight, the small claw (the one used for unimportant things like feeding) will actually start growing into a large claw, and the formerly large claw will regenerate into a small claw. So the crabs go from right-clawed to left-clawed, or vice-versa. A neat trick; I’m sure there are a few baseball managers who wish that would work with their bullpens. Just whack off a pitcher’s right arm and in a few days you’ve got a southpaw.
I headed back for the beach and my turtle nest. We fly out tomorrow morning, so this will probably be my last chance to commune with nest 62. I hope it does well. You can keep track of nest 62 and all the other nests on the beach at this website, though as of now they haven’t updated since I’ve been here. I’ll keep watching.
As I walked back along the surf line, watching the sand, I heard thunder off to the east toward Tampa. Maybe a storm had rolled in off Tampa Bay in the morning. Strange to hear thunder with the Sun shining brightly. I walked up the beach and rinsed the sand off my feet. As I sat waiting to dry a little, Florida gave me the first of two morning surprises. Just like yesterday, a rainbow appeared in the sky over the ocean. This time I got it. You can even see the CMA sea turtle nest spotter truck driving along the beach just under the rainbow.
Florida is full of surprises, and Julie got another one as I was writing this blog; a baby lizard hiding on Alyssa’s snorkel gear. Probably newly-hatched, in 24 hours the balcony will be his – at least until the next family arrives to savor the wonders this place has to offer.
Before that, though, I have one more beach walk – a short one, to be sure – planned for Saturday morning.