Horseshoe Crab Survey – Solstice 2013

I was late. I didn’t mean to be, but I was trying to get the new instagram to work so I could instagram the spawn and then I realized that I was letting technology get in the way of a 45 million year old annual event ! Man, does that put things into perspective. Do you really think Horseshoe Crabs would miss mating for a tweet? Should I?

I got to the bay as the sun was edging toward the horizon, but it was still remarkably light–it was solstice, after all. A group of volunteer scientists were heading through the dunes to the beach and I ran to catch up with them, but as soon as I reached the water I had to stop. There they were–crabs! Mating! Everywhere! In the shallows of the bay, males vying for one female, nosing him aside, traipsing over each other be the lucky guy(s).

We had a vivacious team of volunteer scientists from ages 7-70 and all were eager to participate. The Qadrat counting method, which was used on our beach, allows for plot-based sampling and works best in high population counts. (You can see the quadrat in the film.) Since two weeks earlier there had been over 1,000 crabs on this shoreline, it made sense to use the quadrat method.

Tonight we did not have thousands of crabs but it was still amazing to see the few hundred that we did see, moving through the water with slow determination. Some of the males were not so slow! In fact, I’ve never seen these crabs be so agile before.

We are counting again on Sunday night, when there is going to be a super huge moon. And tomorrow’s post will be yoga on the beach as the full moon rises! SUMMER IS HERE!!!!

Video

Mermaid Hoax but Great Fun

Clearly, this isn’t real. For one thing Torsten Schmidt is in music, not marine geology. Secondly, why are these “scientists” using handheld cameras? These submarines are equipped with underwater cameras.

And what TV station doesn’t have their attribution pasted on the screen but here we have Worldstar Hip Hop, not CNN. The end photoshop footage is terrible of the two guys in a rough sea and give me a break a fish on a spear? But it’s fun and proves a point – we WANT mermaids to exist. What we forget is that they do exist… women are mermaids, at least some of us are;)

MERMAIDS?

My Great Uncle Lou used to have wild animals walk right up to him–I would practically die from wanting to pet them, but he always told me that petting wasn’t for wild animals. It was enough that they come to you and stand in your presence–they trust you NOT to touch them.

This is even more important when we interact with sea life because our touch can damage the protective coatings these creatures have on their bodies. I always make sure I dive with companies who adhere to those tenants and Geko Dive in Padang Bai, Bali, has that reputation.

We had eaten banana pancakes for breakfast and walked down the hill from Bloo Lagoon to join our boat at 9:00 am. The morning had a bit of cloud and there had been a thunderstorm in the night, so everything smelled lush. Our group was a collection of experienced and inexperienced divers, who liked to tell stories and shared pictures from the previous day’s dives. We had a good hour and a half to Manta Point and there was a good chop on the sea. It was cloudy but had stopped raining and we hoped the Mantas would not be hiding in the deep. I got quite lost geographically, but large rock islands, tossed off by volcanic eruptions, littered the archipelago and fishermen perched above witches brew seas sat with their fishing poles extended over mammoth surf.

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The captain made an offering of flowers and incense before we dove our first stop, but we only saw one Manta heading into the blue abyss. There was a small turtle feeding on the bottom and some beautiful reef.  However, another group showed up who also found the turtle and began to harass it; they actually tried to hold onto its tail. We made an effort to stop them and the turtle swam away, but those kinds of divers give human beings a bad name and teach wildlife to avoid us. My Great Uncle Lou would not have approved.

Our dive master signaled a return to the boat and we headed to a different dive site. On the way the sun came out and our spirits rose. We were about to swim with the Giant Mantas.

BALI BLOG 2013

I arrived in Padang Bai, Bali, after 27 hours of travel… actually it was more, but it doesn’t matter because once you know you’re going to heaven, you can take adjust your brain to accept the journey to get there. The worse part, as always, was the food on the plane, but I got some excellent jook in Pudong, Shanghai Airport, on our 5-hour layover there. Of course, my merman got waylaid in Singapore — word to the wise: do NOT try to go to Indonesia with a Passport that is going to expire in less than 6 months. They will NOT let you in! — so I continued to Bali without him. I had a date after all.

 DSCN2023Before I could meet the Mantas though, I had to meet an old friend from New York days, and get over some major jetlag. Of course, having jetlag here was delightful. There were geckos clucking from the ceiling and the tiniest frog on a leaf by the door. In the shower there was a toad hiding in the drain. I was truly in heaven and fell into a deep and solid sleep that lasted till the sun rose.

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Scuba Diving off Gili T – Indonesia w/Buddha Divers

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I hadn’t gone diving in over ten years and never any place as sumptious as the Gilis off Lombok. You know all about them if you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love. Well, I was working on Eat, Eat, Eat and then pray I don’t gain weight! There was a lot of love in our lumbung off Lombok too. It is an interesting thing that when I did my certification in my 30s, I had panic attacks and really had to focus on the training to pass. It was not easy. My refresher course was. I simply wasn’t afraid anymore. I did somersaults in the water and fell backward off the boat–two things I had never done before. I felt at home underwater, welcomed and at one with the sea we all come from – or came from many millions of years ago. Can’t wait to return in April and blog more!