HORN-EYED GHOST CRAB FOAMS AT THE MOUTH

I can understand why it’s called Horn-Eyed but Ghost Crab, no clue. But thanks to Roger McIlroy, an expert on seashore life and someone with whom I had only recently got acquainted by e-mail, clued me in on its name. These were recently seen at the Seria beach right at the Billionth Barrel Monument. Just two days after I shot waves and rocks I got excited and had hoped to see the waves hitting the rocks during the day but there was none. Instead, I noticed in the distance an army of crabs marching in stride until we showed up.

The near-noon hours of a sunny morning and interesting “claw” shadows. My mom caught one and a rather large one that was trying to run away. Apparently, horn-eyed ghost crabs are commonly seen on our sandy shores but there’s supposedly more active at night. Their large holes mark the entrance to their burrows and are usually located on the landward shore near the high water mark, with large amounts of sand tossed around the entrance.

The bright spots you see below are reflections of the sun and this particular crab is quite docile. I was able to go very near it and it remained still (as near as an inch away or whatever is the minimum focusing distance of the Canon EFS 10-22mm lens). The bright spots fooled the camera metering into pulling back exposures so much it looked like a late evening scene. This is one of my favourites.

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Now, this is the first time I had seen a crab foam at the mouth. I’ve seen earlier ones that spat water but not one that foamed. When I had these pictures published ahead of the words, I got asked by a few IM contacts what I had done to (presumably provoked) cause it to react this way. I searched for an answer as soon as I got back. Really, just one answer would be good enough but the more I clicked the more doubts began to fill my head. No, Steven, we did not tickle the crab into foaming and no, Lee Ming, those aren’t my hands.

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DUMPLING FESTIVAL. AN ANNUAL BREEZE.

It was just a year ago yesterday that Seria and Kuala Belait residents celebrated the Dumpling Festival (more accurately called the Dragon Boat Festival). As I have in the previous post described the Chinese tradition in an easy to digest manner (easier to digest than the rice dumplings, that is), I’ll skip the reminder and head straight to the pictures. Like the previous year, I chose the same stretch of sand right off the Billionth Barrel Monument, an icon that no doubt you’re familiar by now, even if you’re not from this neck of the woods. It was also from one of last year’s beach images that was selected by DST for their EASI Pre-Paid phone cards. Unlike last year, however, my kids decided to stay home in favour of Club Penguin and just as well they didn’t come coz unlike last year, our parade got rained on. So this year, my associate Anthony, yes the Nikon D3 dude you may have read about in the recent Lexus Golf Classic post, and I combed the sand with my EOS 5D and 17-40mm (the RED strap made its public debut)!

Nothing like a celebration with a declaration of love to kick it off. Came across this cryptic “1026” with two hearts. You’re more than welcome to decode this and let me know what you think it means.


© Jan Shim Photography

There was a time sea breeze was thought to bring health benefits and you would often find the elderly along the beach in the evenings soaking up what’s left of the setting sun. These days it’s unusual to catch them strolling on the beach anymore but instead you get a number of regular joggers and couples enjoying he fleeting moments before them. Below, an elderly gentleman sat alone on one of many washed up logs as more people began populating the beach.


© Jan Shim Photography

I’ll admit this. Yesterday was the first time I’d seen an actual dumpling that appeared to have been washed up or one that got left behind by accident. Regardless, people seemed oblivious to this lone item and kids were far too busy running after one another while a mom with her youngest kid kept a watchful eye on her other two kids. There were pockets of fun everywhere from adults to kids soaked in sea water and mothers keeping their kids entertained.

 
© Jan Shim Photography

A group of young foreign workers can often be seen in my neighbourhood like this but not at the beach. Yesterday was an exception and over the years, the Dumpling Festival has become such an integral part of the Seria and Kuala Belait experience that a large proportion of the non Chinese and expatriate community enjoy the ambience. I only wish it’s like this every other day! After all the beach is public property and there’s really no reason we cannot make our reasonably clean beaches a part of our life style.


© Jan Shim Photography


© Jan Shim Photography


© Jan Shim Photography


© Jan Shim Photography

Here’s Anthony chimping his Nikon D3 to a group of young crowd whom he had fired off a few shots of. I must say, the large 3.0 inch 922,000-pixel LCD is actually useful for critical viewing. It’s one feature I hope to see on the imminent EOS 5D successor.


© Jan Shim Photography

In the absence of dumplings, you can always have a buddy thrown out to the sea. Unorthodox yes but not unheard of.


© Jan Shim Photography


© Jan Shim Photography

Moments before Anthony and I got hit by drops of rain as we made our way to the car park, no sooner had we decided it was wise to leave before we got soaked, intimidating cloud formation was tell-tale sign that it is not going to clear up any time soon.


© Jan Shim Photography

You never know who you might run into on this stretch. I ran into non other than Award winning blogger, Miss SPIRITUAL GARDEN herself in the flesh along with her best mates in this exclusive WIDESCREEN capture of her larger-than-life persona and with their matching wide grins! As Dumpling Festival is commonly called Dragon Boat Festival elsewhere in the world, check out Nonnie’s post on this occasion—no Dragon Boats in sight but plenty of splashes all the same!


© Jan Shim Photography

Within a stone’s throw from the Billionth Barrel Monument is an massive drilling operation that towers over the otherwise large nodding donkey. Quite the contrast between the serene beach and heavy equipment.


© Jan Shim Photography

I used to bring my trusty EOS 20D and EFs 10-22mm for non-work occasions but this time, I decided the 5D and EF 17-40mm would be more appropriate but only gained a few mm’s in the long end. The resolution, clarity, colours and sharpness of this combination is noticeably better too! The difference in quality between an L and non-L lens can at times be quite glaring and this seems to be one of those times!

BEACH CRABS. THEY’RE NO HERMITS.

Know what it’s like to be bitten all over by sandflies (apparently they’re also called blackfly in Australia/New Zealand)? It seems odd that they are over a dozen products for mossies but nothing to wad off these pesky flies that leave unsightly and very itchy marks. Worse part is they take weeks (up to a month from memory) to disappear completely. But, if that’s what it takes to photograph these beach crabs, so be it!

 
© Jan Shim Photography

So these appear to be one of the many variety of FIDDLER CRABS that are popular on our sandy and muddy shores. If you visit the beach enough like me you’d have know it’s almost impossible to get close to these crabs. They’d scurry off very quickly and chances are there’s not enough holes for them to hide in so the rest just keep on running until it’s safe again to relax and enjoy what they do best—a little fun in the sun! They’re always on the move and seem to hang around that S curve border between moist sand and water and if you’re able to see what I’ve seen through my 100mm macro lens, they playfully spit water through their tiny little mouth.


© Jan Shim Photography

If you look at these pictures and stare into the face long enough you’ll probably see (as I did) where some of these nasty looking faces make their way to the big screen. The fugly alien in PREDATOR springs to mind!


© Jan Shim Photography

Another EASI card image in the making? Maybe. Who knows. The burn from sandfly bites and the scorching sun didn’t make this catch any easy! :)

What I do know is that my EOS 20D camera that recently took a swim in the Temburong river continues to work and I photographed these crabs with the EF 100mm f/2.8 lens. In addition, there are no sandflies or mosquitoes at the Ulu Ulu Resort to ruin the experience.

NOTES: Coming back to the subject of repellants for sandflies, a swimming instructor (thanks Hans!) once suggested baby oil and I’ve since been applying it before I head to the beach. Even at the local club swimming pool, I get sandfly bites too so I’ve been able to determine the effectiveness of baby oil and it works (unless it had been a coincidence)! However, in light of a recent discovery that Listerine (the mouth wash) makes a great safer alternative to repellants against mosquitoes, I can vouch it’s useless against sandflies!

Related Beach links
NATURE’S IRONY AND ART | MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE | POLLUTION: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL | DUMPLING FESTIVAL. A BIG DAY OUT. | SCHOOL’S OUT. SANITY RESTORED.