Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mud shrimp, crab and coconut

I'm getting 'way behind on what I want to blog about; I still have critters left over from our vacation, birds from Reifel Island, beetles and mites and a sad slug. I'm going to have to double up, or resign myself to be blogging the summer months while the snow falls in January. (If it does.)

And today, to top things off, I'm just going to tie up a couple of loose ends from previous posts, which doesn't get me any further ahead. Ah, well ...

1. Nebalia pugettensis, the "Blue-eyed beach critter". A couple of weeks ago, I posted two photos of the live nebalia, almost invisible in the water. This Sunday, I brought home a small handful of sea lettuce and eelgrass washed up with the tide, as a treat for the hermits and crabs in my aquarium. When I washed it, as I always do, a couple of almost transparent animals floated to the top, dead. I scooped them out, and left them in alcohol to preserve them. Yesterday, I dried them out and took their photos. They were no longer transparent:

Nebalia pugettensis, the Hooded mud shrimp.

These are the strangest of all the shrimpy, crabby animals on our shores, I think. They look like they're put together out of spare parts.

The "hood", or carapace, is not fused to the body like a crab's is, but loosely attached with a muscle. It has a long, sharp spine at the top back. And that thing is tough! I accidentally touched it with a finger, and it jabbed in like a cactus spine, and stuck. Another, shorter spine aims forward from the hinged cap between the eyes. This is not a beast to be tangled with; imagine being a fish who grabs for a nice mouthful and gets those spines, front and rear!

And the tail looks like it belongs to another animal altogether.

If the spines on the carapace are strong, the tail has to be different; it finishes off with a soft, feathery plume, extremely fragile.

And this one's eyes are neither red nor blue.

The other animal turned out to be a small helmet crab moult:

Both critters were about 9 mm. long (nebalia) or wide (crab).

2. The coconut. I washed it and dried it thoroughly. Tonight, we cracked it open. We got about a cup of clear coconut liquid; the meat was white and solid. But some sea water had seeped in between the shell and the meat; on the outside, it was covered with green slime that washed off easily.

The juice smells good, if slightly alcoholic. It reminds me of a tepachería in Coyoacán, Mexico, a place where they used to sell tepache and other mildly alcoholic fruit drinks; even across the plaza, the fruity, sweet, nutty aroma competed with the scent of flowers and fresh bread.

My kitchen, however, smells like a coconut-oil soap factory.

Laurie says the birds will like the meat. I know the squirrels will. I'm wondering about the juice. If I put it out for them, will they get drunk on it?


  1. The mud shrimp is my favorite! Talk about 'Dare to be Different'!!!

    I'm so glad you opened the coconut too ... I still wonder what kind of a trip it took to reach you!

  2. Coyoacan is one of my favourite places in the world. The church is amazing and the neighbourhood I just love.

    When I was working in Mexico city I went to the Coyoacan market for soup a couple of times.

    Ah how I long to go back to Mexico for the Nth time. But it is so dangerous right now.

  3. Clytie, And the squirrels loved the coconut. Never let the birds get a chance at it.

    I miss Coyoacan; haven't been there since the 1960s. I went to college there, and lived there for a couple of years, later on.
    I think the "danger" is blown up by the news. If you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, in the wrong business (drugs), maybe. But my large extended family living in Toluca and Guadalajara haven't noticed anything to worry about.


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