Tag Archives: Fiddler Crabs

Travel Theme: Inviting

By Vladimir Brezina

Landed on Sandy HookPaddling out from Manhattan for the day, we often find ourselves heading south to Sandy Hook, NJ. Our favorite spot to land there, about half-way down the bay side, is a picturesque little “island” of wooded high ground that rather improbably rises above the otherwise flat Sandy Hook View over the salt marshlandscape. (Indeed, it is man-made, being the overgrown concrete ruins of an early 20th-century military installation, Battery Arrowsmith.) Separating the “island” from the “mainland” of Sandy Hook is a salt marsh.

Whenever we land at the “island”, we always take a few minutes to walk round to the back, to the edge of the salt marsh.  We go there to observe a mass display of invitation.

The marsh is fringed by a zone of bare, or sometimes sparsely overgrown, ground. Looking down closely, we see that the ground is studded with holes, large and small.

Field of holes

At first, standing there, we see nothing remarkable.

But within a minute or two, we glimpse, here and there, a furtive movement. Then more and more, and soon there is movement all around—movement of a curiously stereotyped sort.

Each hole is occupied by a fiddler crab.

Two fiddler crabs
Fiddler crab emerging

There are both male and female crabs. They are easy to distinguish—the males have one greatly enlarged claw. And they use this claw in a characteristic courtship display. They stand next to their holes and repeatedly raise their large claws, inviting the females to enter.

It is quite a sight to see the whole area come alive with hundreds of crabs all raising their claws simultaneously in their inviting gesture…

(A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Inviting.)

Travel Theme: Endearing

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Endearing.

I know people are expecting photos of cute babies and furry animals, but I love my invertebrates…

… cautious conch

Cautious conch

… feisty fiddler crab

Feisty fiddler crab

… serene sea slug

Serene sea slug

Where We Like to Land on Sandy Hook

By Vladimir Brezina

Sandy Hook, NJ, a long thin finger that reaches out across the Lower Bay toward New York City, is an irresistible destination for a kayak trip from the city. But once Sandy Hook is off the bow, where to land?  The perfect landing site can be elusive.  Landing is nowhere actually difficult on Sandy Hook—there is a broad sandy beach almost all the way around (although the ocean side can have significant surf).  But in most places it’s a featureless beach, offering no shade in the summer nor shelter from the wind in the winter. Parts of the beach may be off-limits for one reason or another.  And besides, we want to have lunch in a picturesque spot, rich both in local sights and sounds and views of the landscape.

There is such a spot on Sandy Hook. A mile and a half down the bay side, right on the beach, there is an overgrown hillock—almost a little island, no more than a few hundred feet across, that is cut off from the rest of Sandy Hook by a salt marsh that floods at high tide.  That’s where we like to land on Sandy Hook.

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