28 September 2012

The Coconut Crab

Big coconut crab with coconuts

This is a good sized coconut crab and they can get quite big. Their colors are quite brilliant in reds, blues and purples.

You can get some sense of this one’s size by noticing the husked coconuts underneath it. This guy was caught in Mopelia and was in a blue plastic drum when we saw it, being fed daily, so that it could be taken to their family in Maupiti for a treat.

We’ve learned a bit about catching them. You look for them underneath or on coconut trees in the piles of discarded nuts. They are easier to find at night when they are more active. They grow quite slowly and in some countries are considered an endangered species. In Suwarrow one of the snorkel expeditions stops at a motu and goes crab hunting. On the day that we were on that expedition, the ranger caught a bunch of adults and some juveniles, releasing them each time except the last two adults which were taken back to camp for tasting. They have a rich lobster-crab-crustacean taste. We aren’t planning on catching any ourselves because their populations are so easily impacted, especially by hordes of cruising boats like all of us, all looking to eat something novel as we migrate through these atolls. If every boat that went to an atoll took a crab, in a season we could demolish a population.

26 September 2012

Black tipped sunset

IMG_6729 (853x1280)One night, when we were in Mopelia, we had no wind and thus dead calm water. The water clarity was high and with not a ripple in the water it was if the sharks circling our boat were swimming in air. In fact, the only way I knew the sharks were below water is because there were no ripples. When their fins would occasionally break the surface they would leave a wake.

We came out on deck with a glass of red wine and spent an hour watching them. We don’t know why they circle the boat. When we drop anchor in an atoll we fairly regularly get a colony of small fish eating at the crap growing on the bottom of our boat. Often, we have a bunch of remora who hang out hoping we’ll throw our compost overboard. With the remora often come a few small black tipped sharks who include us in their back and forth search pattern. They come to the boat if there is a splash but once they see that the splash is us swimming, they turn away.

Here is a series of photos taken that evening of the black tips and one of a remora. I snuck one in of a shark with our kayak, and a shark with fin breaking the surface for perspective. All pictures taken from the deck of our boat (i.e., out of water!).

Black tips in Mopelia Black tips in Mopelia Shark and Remora  Black tip breaking surfaceBlack tip in Mopelia  Black tips in Mopelia Remora/shark sucker

24 September 2012

The Critter (Eating) Report a.k.a. Hunting & Gathering

The South Pacific has rock lobster (langouste in French) and although not as delicious as lobster (homar in French), they are still quite tasty, particularly when in quantity and given to us by friends.

langouste langouste

Our fishing prowess has been on the rise since we were given a new lure by a friend in Maupiti (Thank you Vai!). We hadn’t caught a fish on a line since leaving Mexican waters (!) and not for lack of trying. Between French Polynesia and the Cook Islands we caught both a skipjack and a barracuda.

skipjack barracuda

Despite not having a machete, a lack we need to rectify soon, we are developing our skills at opening green coconuts for drinking with our hatchet. It is very satisfying to be on a hike, feel thirsty, and to grab a green coconut, hack it open and drink it right there. In a green coconut you can also scrape out the jelly inside and eat it which is IMHO quite tasty.

IMG_6745 (1280x853) IMG_6746 (1280x853)

Finally we have the delicious mawa (?sp), a snail we’ve grown fond of in French Polynesia.

IMG_6694 (1280x853) IMG_6695 (1280x853)

Snails cooked (right) and stone discs and edible parts (left)IMG_6698 (1280x853)

22 September 2012

Two sides of a sunset in Mopelia

If we looked away from the sun we saw this (notice shark):

IMG_6727 (853x1280)

If we looked toward the sun we saw this:

IMG_6715 (1280x853)

Not a bad 360 view in Mopelia…

21 September 2012

Spear fishing in Mopelia

IMG_6756 (1280x853)

IMG_6753 (1280x853)Carol speared his first fish in Mopelia. He has a Hawaiian sling not a spear gun which makes the hunt more difficult or more sporting depending on how you look at it. I think in hindsight we might have bought a spear gun.

IMG_6750 (853x1280)Looking at these pictures I still can’t get over the color of water – no photoshopping on these, just the brilliant blue of the water on a sunny day in Mopelia.

Carol went out with Edgar and although he didn’t spear anything with Edgar he must have learned something because he speared a gorgeous Trevally a few days later.

While we were in Mopelia Edgar was fitting his motorboat with a sail. Without a keel he couldn’t make his way upwind but he could save gas by sailing at least one direction when he went fishing. He stopped by and picked up Carol and they swam to a nearby reef with the boat in tow.

IMG_6741 (1280x853)

20 September 2012

Not Dead Yet

We’ve been too remote for internet access for a while now and unable to upload anything with pictures although I continued to write semi-regularly. As is usually the case on this blog, the posts come out when I have internet access and so the content of our blog is almost always out of date. We are currently sitting on the porch of the CICC (Cook Islands Christian Church) Minister’s house in Penryhn, enjoying his hospitality and internet.

Here is a little photographic proof for our families, that we are having fun and relaxing…um…in case anyone doubted it.

  Carol at Suwarrow Picnic in Mopelia on Bird Motu

On our way kiteboarding Carol and skipjack  Livia in hammock Carol at Maupiti Livia drinking coconut waterIMG_6689 (853x1280)