Several days ago I'd written and posted pictures mainly about Julia practicing casting with her new saltwater gear. I finished that post with the following cliffhanger:
But then…right after I took this picture…our peaceful meandering was interrupted by a yell from my husband:
"Jayne! Throw me the rope!"
To be continued…
And now, thanks to a gentle prod from my friend, Tonya, I give you the nerve-jangling adventure that unfolded….
"Jayne! Throw me the rope!"
Kind of like in the first Indiana Jones movie "You throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!"
Anyway, I splashed over from where I'd been with Julia, looking at tiny hermit crabs and shells and things, found the rope and threw it toward Bill, who was standing kind of bent over with the tip of his fishing pole in the water.
Rope isn't as easy to throw as, say, a baseball, so I had to splash halfway to Bill, pick up the rope and throw again.
This time it landed within reach, and Bill grabbed the rope and stood there like this:
And then he did this:
And then this:
What the heck was going on under there???
Turns out the rope was no help after all anyway…
So what the heck…?
(dramatic music…maybe the Jaws theme…)
A blue crab.
(I love the name Callinectes sapidus. It's from the Greek calli, which means "beautiful" and nectes, which means "swimmer," and the Latin sapidus, which means "savory." Very accurate all around.
Bill had seen it down below the water, on the sand, and poked it with the tip of his fishing pole and annoyed it a bit, just to get it to move…and then when he realized it wasn't alone.
No, this hansome devil of a blue crab was…amorously engaged with another crab.
Bill hadn't seen the second, smaller crab because it – well, she, we're assuming – was underneath Big Blue here. (Maybe instead of the Jaws theme, we should have played Barry White…).
Anyway – no wonder the larger crab was trying to ignore Bill's pesky poking.
He was busy.
No wonder he was feeling, well, pretty darn crabby after that point.
Bill had interrupted the romantic tryst, and the lady crab when scuttling away, gathering her unfastened garments about her as she went.
I saw her briefly. She wouldn't make eye contact.
Somehow, the fishing line from the pole had gotten caught around one of the crab's large claws, and Bill was actually trying to free Big Blue, but naturally Big Blue was suspicious of Bill's motives and latched on with his sharp claws to anything he could.
He was also digging the sharp tips of his smaller legs into Bill's hand and wrist.
The kids got a good look at the crab, but Julia was more interested in the tiny hermit crab in her hand.
So the next order of business was to get the crab untangled (there was fishing line looped around one claw and kind of stuck in one of the joints) and get it to let go of the styrofoam popper it was clutching.
And not get his finger crushed in the process.
This takes a bit of planning.
There wasn't a whole lot I could do to help, but Bill had me hold the fishing pole so he could hold the crab in one hand and work on untangling the line with the other.
I held the pole in one hand and, of course, continued to take pictures.
So here we go.
Bill was thinking maybe if he just put the crab back in the water it would let go of the popper and make this whole job a bit easier.
And yes – it worked!
Now the only problem was getting the fishing line off of the crab, who continued to reach and try to pinch or crush anything he could get at.
"Calli" indeed – look at that gorgeous blue on his claws!
In addition to "beautiful swimmer" and "savory," maybe there should have been something in there about "vicious" and "painful" as well.
Blue crabs are known for being pretty aggressive, and their pinches will HURT you.
That's why you need to hold them just so, at the back end.
Their front claws are also pretty long and have a fairly wide range that they can reach.
As a result, the safe area for holding them is relatively small.
At last, the crab is almost freed.
It hangs onto the line a moment longer until Bill finally yanks the last of it out of Mr. Crab's claw.
Time to let him loose.
Bill warns us all to get out of the way before he lets go.
Because this guy will come out swinging…
before he turns and heads as far away from us as he can.
(Though not as fast as Julia, who screamed and went running in the opposite direction.)
Oh, and remember I mentioned that a pinch from this guy would HURT?
Here's some of his work:
After that bit of drama, it was back to practicing casting some more and then scouring the sand for treasures…
Like this guy.
And this one.
And that was our afternoon.