Thursday, January 26, 2006
Pure Florida will be stuck right here for a day or so. I did not get to go home for my birthday last weekend, so Friday, after dinner out with my family, I'm heading alone over to St. Augustine. ( My crew is all obligated and can't go)
Sometime Saturday evening I'll head back, but in the meantime, I will be incommunicado.
If you were wondering, the fish in the tree is a dried out striped burr fish, a type of puffer. When threatened he puffs up into a pointy ball that's fairly hard to swallow if you are a predator type. Burr fish have a hard, horny mouth that is used for crushing the bejeezus out of crabs and other hard bodied critters.They bite really, really hard...I know this from personal experience.
Once I was snorkeling off Steinhatchee with the kids when a huge burr fish waddled by. They are slow ...as fish go so I chased him, caught him , and surfaced with my prize. I held him in one hand as I signaled the kids, " Hey guys, look what I...AIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE, OWOWOWOWO!" They stared in amazement and no small amount of fear as it sounded like I was sharkbait.
Their worried looks turned to laughter as I swung my hand from side to side over my head, with the burr fish firmly latched onto the thin webbing between my thumb and forefinger. It was not just latched on, but was biting over and over again in that shell crushing way that they do. Finally, I quit swinging it around my head and placed hand and attached fish back in the water. At that point, it calmly let go and swam away.
I did not chase any more fish that day.
I do not know how the one in the photo got stuck in the cedar tree. I found him that way, puffed, dead, and wedged, on a field trip with my students.
Posted by R.Powers at 10:01 PM