We made a trip to Chinatown recently. Chinatown? Well, with more and more I guess it’s fair to say it was New York City. But there are at least three enclaves now. Manhattan! Of course! Is there any other? Yup, San Francisco, Los Angeles…. Live seafood. It’s about live and fresh. I’m not sure there are many places where you walk past tanks of live seafood ready to be cooked to order.
The shops? Exotic? Certainly different. Prices? Whoa! Look closely. Read the labels and … whoa! They would be thousands of dollars per pound! Really? Dried shrimp, a delicacy? And abalone, at hundreds a pound? I can appreciate the price, marvel at the prices, and shake my head that someone values this at so many dollars. Abalone is chewy and not particularly tasty to me. But then don’t ask me. I don’t like wine much either.
Happy 4th of July. No fireworks for me to shoot. I guess I will have to make do with another day of diving….
Crab, lobster, and shrimp all love to hide. Not love, survival. They naturally don’t want to be eaten. And it’s true, because I don’t see them much on the reef. On this dive I was queasy. Bad pizza or current pushing me around, who knows? But I was thinking ahead to dry land and settling my stomach. My dive buddy pointed. And usually it’s obvious – the subject. He was wide angle and helpless to shoot this. The crab was in a hole. This means that the focus was going to be hell. The camera focuses on the closest nearest subject. No face recognition here! And then if you point your camera into the hole, your strobe will not fit too. I need a ring flash here. They do not make one underwater. Serendipity! Luck! Lots of it! Persistence! And time! The crab and I played peek a boo. I’d shine the light. He’d move. So I shined in one spot and waited for him to move into the field of my camera and strobe. It worked…till he caught on and moved away and under another coral to be lost to this poor photographer. Bye! I wasn’t going to eat you…promise!… heart crossed and hope to die….
Three maybe four inches large, tiny guy, not on par with a tiny hermit crab but he was small. And he was shy. All that hard shell protection and they are very afraid to be out in the light. Which begs the question, where do they catch all the crabs in the market? When they are big enough to eat, are they more stupid too? We were on a night dive. These crabs are sometimes seen at night if you manage to surprise them. The problem is that when you see one you are surprised about as much. So I got a shot. Not much else, and then he was gone. I only posted a single image because that’s all I got. Bye. No second chance.
Crabs are shy. The hard shell must not be too much a deterrent for predators. I found a couple hiding in the coral.
They were well protected and impossible to get at. Hence, they were also impossible to photograph. And then we chanced upon a lesson.
The empty shell of a crab was all that was left after it had been eaten. So, I do not see crabs out in the open on any dives.
Here’s a reversal. Farid pointed this scene out. We were peering over the rail to a rock below us on the pier. I cannot quite grasp how this fish was caught. The crab was deformed and missing a claw and legs. But it had supper and was intent on consuming its meal completely. We dove and the meal was still in progress more than an hour later. It all doesn’t seem to add up. The fish should never have been prey to a crab. The crab was at a disadvantage with missing claw and legs. The scene was unexpected.
Never put your camera away early. Another rule I follow. As we were headed home to shore, I looked in one more hole. There was a brightly colored crab. One shot only, and the exposure and focus were kind. There’s no name in the guidebook. I chased to get one more shot. The other side of the hole had two spiny urchins guarding. I could glimpse the crab, but no shot, no way. I’ve been spiked by an urchin. Once was more than enough. The crab was very shy and never put in a new appearance.
David doesn’t mind if I mention his name. He got dive lessons and in three days he was open water qualified. He’s a good swimmer. And he is not one to panic underwater. My daughter was immediately protective of him because she worried that I was not quite reliable as an underwater coach. For some reason, they thought I would put him at risk for injury. I skied with them without limits; they survived. So? Ok, ok, I tend to be casual about general things and I only really sweat the details. It seems the kids know me too well.On the very first day of independent diving, I persuaded the kids to do a night dive. My daughter (no first names, please, so now it’s “J”) had done it before and didn’t care to do it. (She’s also afraid of the dark?) Somehow we were there at the dive resort right at sunset. I hadn’t intended to do a night dive. But jeezzz, we’re here… not my fault. It gets dark early here too. So she agreed and we went. Dave wanted to try; he was curious. It was chilly at dusk so the kids wanted to go early before dark until David mentioned that the big fish feed at dusk. It was plenty dark when we hit the water for what was agreed to be a 30 minute night dive.
And it was 60 minutes later when we emerged. The kids didn’t want to come up at 30 minutes! We had had a very wonderful experience. Every dive has one great moment. Ours came when J saw a hermit crab hauling its shell on a coral outcrop. We/she photographed the crab that I would never have seen except for J’s excellent vision.My memorable moment came earlier. I had briefed the kids on how to swim underwater and the safety involved in the dark. They both knew to stick close to me. It was more of an admonishment from J for me not to swim away from them. I led, they followed, and when I turned to be sure they were close behind they were there swimming arm and arm, flashlights swinging in all directions trying to avoid/scare off predators. They refused to get separated and so held one another close. Touching! My wife told me they weren’t getting along so well at Xmas. There’s nothing like a little terror to bring out true feelings.
It has finally turned cold around here. It was downright chilly the other day. The temperature only got to 80 degrees (awwww!). I actually put on a fleece to keep the wind off between dives. A few dives ago the master photographer had pointed out a hole in the sand where a crab lived. We stood by but it never showed itself. You poke the sand open and drop some shells down the hole. This will provoke the crab to push the shell out and to rebuild the cover for his hole. The next time down I had more of a chance to explore this hole. First you have to find it. With my vision underwater (it’s a joke!?) I had to look hard but the hole was still there and I poked it and dropped a shell down. Nothing! Nada! Bupkus!
But when I swam back a few minutes later I was rewarded. After editing it’s pretty obviously a crab. But it wasn’t nearly so obvious underwater. In fact this hole is right in front of the dive platform, which is swarming with divers (I mean lots, really lots) all day. And not a single one seems to notice. The crab certainly has stayed here for a long time.Yes, people do strange things underwater.
It looks like it’s all cooked up and ready to eat. Or, maybe it’s part of why they call it the Red Sea? I can understand why I don’t see anything like this during the day. It would be too tempting to pass up. You realize that the color red fades as you dive deeper. But that doesn’t mean that the animals don’t have red color.