Saturday, May 06, 2006
  sponge crabs & other underwater cuteness
so that crab matt hoe got a pic of the other night? i found it in my brand spankin' new reef creature identification guide. it turns out it's a sponge crab. there is a whole family(?) of crabs that camouflage themselves by cutting a little cap of sponge and wearing it on their backs. i just about died laughing when i saw the pictures.

"This crab will hide on the reef under its sponge if sponge is not readily available, it has also been seen with rubber thongs ("flip- flops") on its back in areas like Kaanapali beach where tourists can lose their shoes in the surf."

anyway, i've had a spot of fun on my little vacation so far. spent yesterday regaining equilibrium after waking up in the midst of an awful dream, then greeting the day to a dead starling. it's amazing how having a really shitty first 30 seconds of your day will just make you feel like spending the day in bed. so anyway, instead i sat outside for a bit and watched the bees and the lizards and the butterflies. then i scooped kitten up out from under a chair and she actually let me hold her. for like 10-15 minutes. honestly, i think it was a first. i laid her down on my lap just as she had been laying under the chair and supported her head with my hand and she just sat there and purred. wow. :)

then yesterday i went with balu to help one of his clients out. basically, he needed me to stay around there as to not leave the place unattended while unlocked. so, i watered all the plants, read, and took a dip in the pool. and fed a little iguana some hibiscus flowers. he had a tough time swallowing the stem: mental note next time to de-stem it before i toss it over.

today i went on a dive. by myself! the conditions were good and it was just a shore dive. i figure the only way i'm going to gain skills like navigation is if i either go with someone less experienced than me or go alone. so i did the latter. got myself a little flag and kicked out. it was quite nice. i saw an eel right off the bat. a pretty anemone with itty bitty tiny shrimp around it (so itty bitty i couldn't really tell if they were fish or shrimp, only watching them for a bit led me to believe they were shrimp). saw a grouper (i sure wish the fishermen would give those guys a break). a school of spadefish. baby french angelfish. and

i came across two cleaning stations. to those of you who do not dive or watch nature specials, the cleaning station is just the neatest thing ever. basically, fish get plagued with tiny little parasites. since evolution left them without opposable thumbs.. or even arms.. they can't get the pesky creatures off themselves. so they enter what is called a cleaning station. it's just a little area inhabited by little shrimp or gobies (or any other fish, really) that will happily vacuum all those little bugs off the big guys.

turtle at a cleaning station, being tended to by surgeonfish

the cool part is that a truce is called in the whole predator-prey relationship during a cleaning. a tiny fish will enter the MOUTH of a fish that would normally swallow it up in a heartbeat, knowing that it's safe. the big fish know to not take that easy meal because they know how important, and seemingly pleasureable, the cleanings are, and therefore how necessary it is to maintain this matter of trust.

a diver gets in on the action - see the antennae coming out of his mouth? the shrimp do the exact same thing to animals that normally eat them. i think it's just amazing!

Now I'm just dying to get this book: Reef Fish Behavior. Haha, they show a fish being cleaned on the cover. I love to take things slow underwater so I can catch glimpses of the daily life of the reef, instead of just doing a driveby of "pretty fish, another pretty fish, etc." Like when I saw the spadefish taking turns rubbing their bodies in the sand, presumably to exfoliate off the parasites. Or when we did a reverse night dive and were witnesses to damselfish mating rituals.

So anyway, yeah, the dive went well. I managed to navigate myself right back to where I started out, had some air to spare, and had a nice, relaxing time. Then I went two blocks north where I met the gang to surprise Alex for a birthday dive/party. I skipped the dive, along with about half of us, and instead went and bought sangria and pie for the party. I just got home. :)
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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