Today we took three hours to collect, process and release 84 tree-climbing crabs, shaving an hour off our time and two hours faster than the first session.
We're getting better but were also assisted by high-tech gear - ultralight mop handles with u-shaped heads, a variety of $2 nets from Daiso, strong elastic bands swiped from the museum trolley and a range of buckets lying around in the lab and museum.
Ladybug screamed in the distance. The smaller crabs have pincers like shards of glass and one had got a good hold of her and was not letting go. Oi Yee and I were busy measuring the first two batches, so I just muttered "crab got her." Not as exciting had the Buloh croc been involved (we were chest high in water), but still, enough to startle Oi Yee.
Two crabs did get away during measurements - large, aggressive males. While removing leaves entangled in the legs of an Episesarma chengtongense, my fingers got too close and the crab clamped both its huge chelipeds on my fingers. When I was distracted by the intense pain, he made a break for it. I was disappointed it hadn't hung on but am thankful he did let go, I suppose. But we really hate to lose even one.
A large E. versicolor (EV) scrambled around the bucket in a sudden frenzy, finally leaping off the back of another crab to freedom. Ming Sheng and I yelled, as is usual on such an occasion, and dove for him. We froze just as he slipped through the gaps in the planks of the boardwalk, with just his legs sticking out. Usually, if we move very slowly, we have a chance of retrieving the animal.
But this one seem to take one look at the frozen pair in pursuit of him and I swear he blinked out "Sayonara, baby" and dropped into the rising mangrove waters with a light splash. He was gone and we just laughed weakly.
Posted at 12:12PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .