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Ghost Crabs on Ilot Kouare Beach New Caledonia
New Caledonia

Ghost crabs, Ocypode ceratophthalmus, on the white sandy beach at Ilot Kouare nature reserve, are really difficult to capture - photographically speaking. They dig deep burrows in the soft sand and hide in there if they see anthing moving along - or over - the beach. Pretty jumpy critters, actually. They also adjust the color of their carapaces to match the color of the sand. I'm not sure how they do that. 

Some of them are not too bright. If they were there would be a lot more of them. Herons, sea gulls, and sea eagles like crab-snacks so the smarter ones tend to be really impossible to see wandering around on the sand during the day at low tide. Impossible because the smart ones are snoozing down in their burrows. Some, maybe overcome with munchies themselves, maybe charged up with the hormones of a teenager, dash out into the open now and then.

I saw two of them darting in and out of their burrows on the northern tip of Kouare and so I set up my remote control Hero3 on it's pole just next to them, took a sphere image of the glorious beach, and then left the camera aimed at where I saw the crabs and wandered off, making big clumping foot-in-sand vibrations as I went. Sure enough, when I was about 20 meters away I saw them come out again and took their photo as one dashed around and the other glared at it from the edge of its burrow. 

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to try to find the two crabs in the image ;-).

People are not supposed to bug the critters on Kouare nature reserve. Dogs are not allowed on the island at all. But holiday happy yacht crews from Noumea show up once and awhile, dogs and all, and swarm over the beach - running here and there like demented fools. It is, I suppose, the price wilderness must pay to gain some measure of protection from humans. 

Copyright: Richard chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 11506x5753
Uploaded: 18/08/2013
Updated: 26/05/2014
Views:

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Tags: beach; white sand; crabs; ghost crabs; kouare; lagoon; island; sand; wilderness; nature reserve; new caledonia; world heritage site; ocypode ceratophthalmus
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New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.