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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Crustaceans: A Love Story

It was a summer while I was in college, far too many years ago to comfortably admit. I was spending the evening with my friends Dave and Craig. Our usual mode of entertainment was intoxication, far more often than not choosing cannabis. One aspect of entertaining ourselves in this way was finding an interesting location to consume our intoxicant of choice for the evening.

It was probably I who suggested the particular beach we ended up driving to. Dave was unfamiliar with the area, and Craig, while local, lived further from this beach than I -- it was mostly known only to those in the immediate neighborhood.

We drove to the beach, but the parking lot was closed at this late hour, while the beach itself was open. We parked on the street just outside the gate and walked in. Whoever was providing the material for this evening's entertainment broke out the joints, and we wandered about, passing them between us in the standard ritualistic manner.

We walked idly on the sand, laughing, joking, just being silly and juveline, as a group of stoned college students will, when one of us pointed off to a spot in the sand a distance away. One of us identified it as a horseshoe crab. Interesting. I had never seen a horseshoe crab in nature before. Possibly I'd never seen one at all.

A moment later, we noticed that there was... another horseshoe crab on the sand. And another. And a small group of them. And, my god, a larger pile, a heap of them on the sand, right at the water line. They moved slowly, but when moving, they appeared to be digging themselves further into their heap. There were dozens of these prehistoric, alien looking creatures, engaging in we knew not what. Looking into the water, we saw that there were many more there, possibly hundreds. And floating in the water was... a scum? a film? Something which was not usually there.

We realized that what we must have been witnessing was a horseshoe crab orgy. None of us had, of course, ever heard of such a thing, but what else could this be? Was this a once a year mating ritual that we had happened upon?

Needless to say, to three stoned individuals, this was a fascinating sight. We watched it, transfixed, for what felt like hours. The heaps of crustaceans heaved and undulated, individual crabs entering or leaving the water, joining or abandoning piles for unknown reasons. Were they both sexes or just one? Was there a single female at the center of each heap, enjoying the attentions of many partners?

Unfortunately, there was no marine biologist nearby whom we could question, so we left with our assumptions as to what we had just witnessed, and sooner or later we each forgot about it.

I don't know what caused me to think about this particular episode, but thank goodness for Google.


  • That made me smile :-) Amusing AND I learnt something!

    By Blogger suze, at 8:30 AM  

  • Ha ha - that was great. I can just imagine it - should be in a movie. I have a relative who is a marine biologist - it's really interesting the weird shit these creatures do ;-)

    By Anonymous Ruth, at 7:54 PM  

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