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Mangrove crabs!

By Cody Kiefer 10 months ago

I am now in the 7th week of my 8 week GVI experience, and I am well on my way to completing my very own environmental conservation project. I have chosen to research the sex ratio and size distribution of the Giant Mangrove Crab, Cardisoma carnifex, within the Baie Laraie mangrove forest on Curieuse Island. So far, I have caught over 130 of these crabs in the span of 5 field sessions. While it is often easy to spot and capture these massive crabs out in the open, other times it can be a bit more difficult.

During my first field session, I thought that it would be unnecessary to bring gloves out into the field. I was wrong. The first crab that got a hold of the end of my finger was instinctively flung into the air as I yelled (it was okay). On the second day, I was handling and measuring a tiny crab with my hand (now gloved) as it pinched my ungloved hand. As a defense mechanism, its claw released from its body only to tighten around the tip of my finger. This has happened twice now and both times I needed tweezers to release the claw from my finger. Today, during an all-day crab catching adventure, multiple crabs grabbed onto my shirt, two claws made their imprints on my hands, and I returned back to a base with mud up to my knees.

While most of you may be reading this and thinking that I am struggling through this process, I can assure you that I am having more fun than you can imagine. Every day brings new highs and lows, such as catching the largest crab yet, to tripping over trees and receiving a face-full of mud. In addition, I am sure that most people would get a good laugh out of seeing a 6’5’’ American trying to make his way through the mangroves like Tarzan while being pinched by giant crabs.

Not only am I having fun, but it has already taught me so much about what my potential future career in ecology research has to offer me. I have gained valuable experience with field work and have been guided by the amazing and extremely knowledgeable GVI Curieuse staff. Finally, I feel that my research will provide very helpful information to SNPA about a crucial species in the Baie Laraie mangrove forest.