Saturday, July 31, 2010


The sound of a motor before dawn was a bit odd; I figured someone was just getting out here early. Followed by anxious shouts; maybe stumbling along the jungle trail, after an all night drinking bout? But paddling out on the point that morning, the salt air was tinged with diesel. And then there was the fuel drum floating in the tideline...

It was Leo who alerted me to the cause. A vessel had grounded out on the point, barely reaching the inside of the bay, where it was scuttled in the shorebreak.

Visions of two years before, when Leo's partner Stu alerted me to a boat grounded out on the very rocks of the same point. A drug runner from Colombia! One of a trio of boats running up the coast, when (as the story goes) a U.S. Coastguard helicopter gave chase, so the three took their chances on different routes. Apparently, the one grounded on the point was just the fuel carrier (damn!). It had jettisoned its fuel drums, which littered the bay, but the triple tandem mounted 200hp Yamaha outboards on the stern gave away its mission. The only remaining cargo consisted of spare engine parts, and cans of tuna "hecho en Colombia".

This year's shipwreck was not so sinister––merely sad. A fishing vessel out of Quepos, just up the coast, had experienced mechanical problems and was running to shelter. Almost made it, too, all but for that gnarly nub of rock out in front. Free dorado for lookers-on, as there was no way these poor fellows were going to get their catch to market.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crab Grab

The full and new moons bring "spring" tides; the highest highs and the lowest lows of the month. Logs, branches and other vegetative material that have accumulated along the shore get swept up and redistributed, leaving a debris line at the high water mark--rich pickings for the hermit crabs that feed on this detritus.

Most crab species molt in order to grow, finding a safe place where they can slip out of their old shell as they harden a new one over their soft vulnerable bodies before venturing forth, lest they becoming an easy meal for a predator. Hermit crabs don't form their own shell, rather relying upon the discards of others, typically sea snails. But competition for new homes can be tough in the intertidal real estate market, so it can pay to be creative.

I was sitting on the log where I typically enjoy my morning coffee, dividing my attention between the sunrise and the heavy flock of hermit crabs working the high tide line, when something unusual caught my eye: a disembodied walking crab claw, powered by a rather large hermit crab. Unable to resist, I picked it up and brought it back to the cabin to photograph and make a short video clip.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back in the Osa, CR

Back in the Osa.  All the familiar sights, sounds, smells. The heat, the humidity. I am struck by how the once-exotic has become familiar, common, comforting.
  • The melodic sing-song sliding notes of the Clay Colored Robin announcing the coming dawn
  • Followed by the insistent call of the pipsqueak Riverside Wren, "the sun is up, the sun is up…"
  • The raucous squawking arguments of Scarlet Macaw couples passing overhead
  • The haunting call of the toucan
  • The guttural growly huffing barks of the Howler Monkeys claiming their place
  • The comic acrobatic ease of Spider Monkeys passing through the canopy
  • The startling electric blue flash of of a Morpho Butterfly winging erratically by
  • The improbable purple-orange hustle of Halloween Crabs in the leaf duff at night
  • The magic of glowbugs in the dark
  • Fruit setting on the mango trees--monkey bait and promise of mischief to come
  • A carpet of yellow; freshly fallen flowers of the Cortez Amarillo