August 14, 2011

Carolina Critters

Besides having beautiful beaches, North Carolina also has a lot of wildlife. All along the shore are sand pipers hunting for sand fleas. Sand fleas are not really "fleas", but actually little crab-type animals that bury themselves where the waves wash up on shore. Dave loved to hunt for these when he used to come here as a little boy, still does as a big boy.

Here is Dave showing Jack one of the smallest sand fleas ever (it's in the orange circle). This guy was the size of a tiny shell shard and I have no idea how Dave even found him

At night there are bigger crabs to hunt. These guys bury themselves in the sand during the day, and then emerge from their holes when it gets dark and make a break for the ocean. Armed with buckets, bowls, sand toys, hot pads, tongs, spatulas, and flashlights, we try to intercept them on this nightly journey. My weapon of choice this year was part of a salad spinner and it was very effective! Not to brag, but I am a top-notch catcher and managed to nab a lot of crabs this year.

Once a crab is spotted it gets crazy. A shout goes out, everyone comes running, and then we try to keep a light on the crab as we chase it around the beach in the dark. These little guys are super quick and can change direction so fast. There is normally a lot of shouting as we try to keep up, and occasionally some shrieking when it heads for some body's feet :)

This is one of my favorite parts of our trips to North Carolina.  I just love the thrill of the hunt!!

Part of our catch - once we're done for the night, we turn the pot on it's side and watch the crabs scurry back to the ocean

Also making a journey to the ocean this year were some baby sea turtles. There was a nest of eggs about a 1/2 mile from our place and we made it there just in time to see two little guys enter the water. The turtle patrol, who were there to help control the crowd and make sure the babies got to the water safely, told us there were 125 eggs and only 17 didn't hatch.

Go for it little guy and good luck!

This turtle had a bad flipper and will be taken back to the aquarium for rehab. I can't believe how small they are!

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