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May 31

The Coconut Crab Adventure & Other Stories – by Sophia

 

 

HALLO!!!!!

Today I will take you to the island Suwarro.

 

Karin J is swinging a rope, that is not an obtusely large and random leafless coconut tree – as some people have mistaken it for. (Karin J)

 

This was the first and last island where I saw coconut crabs.  Coconut crabs are named so because they have very strong claws that can break open a coconut and they can even climb trees!

This is kind of freaky because they are big. But that is not all you can find on this island.

 

There is also the perfect swimming water, the only downside about it is the sharks. They weren’t that big but still half my size, and they followed you around too (probably because people spearfish even though it is not allowed. Suwarro is a wild park reserve ).

 So, you sort of jump out of the water when you are done swimming, because you can’t see them when you climb up the step ladder. So, instead of standing on the step ladder half way in the water and taking off your fins and goggles and putting them on the swimming platform, you dive down and then go up as fast as you can, and jump out onto the platform seal style and it turns out that is the funnest way  to do it  ;P . So anyway, back to the Coconut crab adventures and other Stories.

Ever since we were told that we might be able to see coconut crabs I kept on wondering what they look like (I am known for my curiosity). So, when we at last got there and my dad asked the familiar question of who wanted to go with him to shore, I said yes at once. Not just because I wanted to see them but I was a bit tired of being on the boat.

It turns out that they are night crabs so you can’t see them in the day unless you go through the thickets to find them in holes and that is not allowed. (Because it is a wild life reserve) The coconut crabs are not alone. It turns out that, like almost on every atoll (Suwarro is an atoll) there were also land hermit crabs! On Suwarrow there were a LOT!! While my dad talked to the park ranger I looked around for them,

The Hermit Crabs leave their footprints everywhere!!

 

Now I must give a little bit of a background I think. There are two rangers that make sure that everyone obeys the park rules. They are taken there from their island with a boat that drops them off on the way to some other destination and they stay there for 6 months! With only the occasional cruising yacht that visits, it is literally as if you are at an uninhabited island.

The one ranger liked doing things and making things and kept the place where they live in good order. He would clear the beach of leaves and he made hammocks out of fishing nets that washed up on shore and some wood that was lying around. He would make all sorts of things out of things he finds that washes onto the shore.

 

 

So anyway, back to the coconut crabs…no, first the hermit crabs

When you look in between the rocks or in the coconut tree stumps (they actually eat it – it is one of the things that they eat) you can find them in shells as big as your fist and they can never properly retreat into their shells. It is kind of funny that in the day there wouldn’t be one in sight, but when the sun starts to go down and in the night you cannot help but step on them, there are so many!  

 

 

I found it funny when we had a potluck on the beach once with other cruisers  and the sun was going down and we were braaing (BBQing) the meat and the next thing we saw there were so many hermit crabs out, slowly and silently making their way to us.

 

The meat was the centre of attraction for millions of hermit crabs and afterwards we let them have the bones that still had a little meat on them. Then the ranger said that he would take the people that wanted to, to see if they could find some coconut crabs . So our family decided we wanted to see them, but the other cruisers didn’t want to go back to their boats with low tide in the dark.

So we got two flashlights and went to the back of the clearing behind the place the rangers live. This is where we looked for them ….

 

 It turns out that they look like a lobster and normal crab mixed into one. They also come in the colours : Blue Purple and Red Orange. Like the hermit crabs they come out in the dark.

We would see one and go closer and the ranger said that we could touch them. Naturally Franci and I tried. Just as I was going to, he or she, moved backwards like a lightning bolt and I definitely didn’t expect that (you have to know they have really REALLY  Big claws ) So, I didn’t try again for a long while.

 

And then we went to a place where the ranger put out some broken coconuts that the crabs come to eat and big ones so off we went to look. While Marike was petting a Big Orange and Red one and I looked on from a distance, Karin J said to me: “Don’t panic, but there is one behind you.” So I stood and turned at the same time and saw that it was literally just behind me and sitting all nice and still, so that I didn’t see it when I first sat down. It was BIG!! I had a VERY big fright! And so my big curiosity was satisfied. Oh, and we even saw one climb a tree. That concludes the Coconut Crab Adventure. It is not very exciting, but I hope you are at least awake enough to read this blog to the end.

We didn’t just play in the sand and cry over school when out of the water for the whole time. We also went diving to look at all the many amazing things God made and to become speechless because of it.

My Dad holding an evil Crown of Thorns that he speared with his knife

 

We were told that there was a Manta Ray cleaning station close by. Now, we have tried to see some Mantas for a long time now, but never succeeded. We didn’t see them where people said you could find them because those places were feeding places and the water at feeding places are not very clear because …..guess what?.. they are full of food!!! (if you don’t know yet ,Mantas eat plankton and if you don’t know what plankton is then you can look it up. it is very interesting).  

 

 

 

Anyway, we saw the Mantas and the cleaner fish that clean them. But they wouldn’t clean me, no matter how hard I tried to get them to do it.

The cleaner fish that refused to clean Sophia

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Ronald Weese

    Hi Sophie,
    Thanks so much for your wonderful descriptions of the exciting life you have.
    Your images and blogs are so refreshing for us who are now a little too old for such
    awesome adventures. Enjoy every minute of your youth; it doesn’t last long.
    I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and have done some cruising in the
    Carribbean. I built a 35 foot boat in 1968-73, then sailed it from Toronto to the
    Bahamas and back. It was a great experience for me, but is very humble in
    comparison with your voyages.
    I sincerely thank your family for sharing your adventure.

    Bon voyage and bon vent.

    Ron

  2. Sonia

    I’ve come in to catch up on your antics. A lovely story Sophia. And some really great photos too. I shall have to go back and read some more of your blogs. Safe sailing

    Love from all of us in Yeppoon xx

  3. Cathy Norrie

    Hi Sophia,

    As usual, another great story about your adventures on the sea. My favourite part was when Karin J told you there was a Coconut Crab right behind you. They are huge and quite intimidating even, and make especially, when they are just sitting and staring at you!

    Thanks again for sharing your stories complete with photos!

    Big hugs
    Cathy (in Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

    P.S. Our big Stampede week has just ended so all the cowboys and cowgirls are looking like normal people again. The whole city (even the stuffy business men and women in their suits) gets dressed up in jeans, boots and cowboy hats for the whole week. It really is quite fun. You must come and visit some time!

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