Thursday, July 2, 2009
A Crab Highway
Yesterday, the kids and I visited good friends who live seven miles from Point Lookout on an inlet on the Chesapeake Bay. Mid-afternoon, we ventured in the canoe to a beach at the point where the inlet meets the Bay. Instead of getting caught in the swirling confluence of water between the inlet and Bay, we parked at an eddy. This eddy provides a safe haven for all kinds of Bay life: frogs, crabs, fish, snails, and much more that I am not mentioning. I was amazed at the flurry of activity of all on the beach at the eddy, particularly the crabs. I stood and watched for a long time as the crabs used the shoreline as their busy city street, passing each other to subsist on another day of survival in their little world. It was fascinating in particular to watch the fiddler crabs be ultra defensive and overcompensate with their one huge claw and one tiny claw 10 times smaller on their drive to survive. At one point, I came face to face with a blue crab. We stared each other down both wondering what the other was thinking. He probably thought I was an osprey and its next meal. But no, a harmless human just taking a look into his world. The coolest inhabitant I watched was a northern pikefish. Not knowing what it was until I looked in a field guide, I observed in awe as it swam like a delicate five inch ribbon close to the shore. With its one inch snout, I hypthosized that it siphoned organic matter from the water until I saw it open its mouth like an alligator. Wow, how cool and not what I had expected. It is wonderful what you can learn from an animal just by taking the time and patience to observe it.