Friday, December 04, 2009

Beach Ghost

Before we go to that other, shellier beach that I hinted at yesterday, let me share this.

While I was photographing the terns in yesterday's post, a woman came walking down the beach and stopped at a respectful distance. I could see her on the periphery as I shot the terns and I thought she was just bird watching.
She waited around until I finished my tern photos. As I walked near her on the way back to the JEEP, she spoke,

"There's a ghost crab right over there and he's standing his ground. You can probably get a good shot."

I thanked her. She smiled and walked on.

I turned to the crab, already knowing what was about to happen.

Ghost crabs are THE fastest crab on the beach. They usually only pause for a moment and then scoot off, fairly flying over the sand.
Then, they disappear down their burrows up past the high tide line.
This is standard procedure.

Which means, I have very few, and very poor quality ghost crab pics in my collection.

So I fully expected this ghost crab to take off like the Roadrunner on my big brother's favorite cartoon.

When I got this close, I was totally stoked and thought this was as good as it was going to get.
As is my way, I inched closer and closer, not really believing my good fortune, since this crab was not running away.
This crab really WAS standing it's ground, alternately taking a few steps and then stopping and raising it's claws in a defensive posture.
That behavior is totally unlike any ghost crab I have ever encountered.

I got down on my knees, switched the camera to macro, and literally got in the ghost crab's face.
I had my camera just about 6 inches in front of her perky face ...
... and then it hit me.

(not the crab ... understanding)

He was a she and SHE was really, really pregnant. I think she was feeling the biological imperative to get to the water and spawn.
That is what was keeping her from dashing off as usual.

I shot one bazillion and one closeups and then, sympathetic to her condition, I backed off and let her continue on her way.

Once upon a time, in my National Park Service turtle Ranger days, I viewed these crabs as the enemy.
The sea turtle hatchery I operated was completely fenced to keep these rascals from moving in and chowing down on my seaturtle eggs. A single ghost crab could cause big trouble deep in a seaturtle nest, and you would not know it until that nest failed to launch.

This little girl, with her precious cargo, softens my view.

She's just a little crabby.


threecollie said...

Very nice video and pics.

Deb said...

Sara N. Dippity strikes again! Nice pics.

Pablo said...

OMG! You cast a shadow????

Sandcastle Momma said...

Wow! Shots like that are few and far between. Between this and the owl pics you should start looking for a unicorn to photograph! You've definitely got a knack.

Caroline said...

Ain't nothin' like that trotting around here! Very cool!

Miz S said...

The urge to nurture the next generation is a beautiful thing, whether it's a crab or a spider or a polar bear or one of us.

Also? Josh says getting pictures of a ghost crab isn't such a big deal and HE could do it if he wanted to, he just DOESN'T WANT TO.

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi FC! I wish I could see Ghost crabs but I think there are always too many people on the beach to see any thing so skittish! (maybe if I get up early!) Very cool shots! I like the terns too, love their feathery tufts on the side of their heads, looks kinda punk rock!

I'm hosting the next culinary throwdown if you want to participate! The challenge is for salt and its due Dec. 9.

Click here for info

Have a great weekend!

Kimberlee said...

Excellent photos and video! And it was very kind of you to understand the crabbiness of an expectant mother. :)

lisa said...

OMG, I think that is the same kind of crab we were able to take pictures of when we got to come down to Florida back 2 years ago! That is soo cool!

Doug Taron said...

WOW photos. This reminds me of photographing tiger beetles. Every so often the stars align and you can get in really close for an amazing shot or two.

Floridacracker said...


Sara rules!

Only occasionally.

There were suspicous hoofprints in my woods this morn.

I hope not! LOL!

Miz S,
Momma instincts are a beautiful thing.
I know Josh could. And I could ride a scooter in urban DC traffic if I WANTED too, I just Don't.

None of them were wearing leashes or slam dancing, but they looked like the could begin at any moment.
Ohhh man, that sounds like a tough one.

Believe me, I am well versed in the ways of crabby preggers.

Neat! These are very cool crabs.

The posture would be very familiar to you... crawling around in the sands on knees and elbows trying to get as close as possible.
Very tigerbeetlephotographish.

kim k said...

Fantastic! Very sweet as well...protective mother, as any one of us would be!!!

Floridacracker said...

Welcome to Pure Florida!