A browsing deer, tiptoeing delicately through the thimbleberry patch, hears me coming and stiffens into immobility, a few inches taller already; neck, ears, legs all suddenly stretched. If she thinks I may be a danger, she leaves, bouncing straight-legged through the undergrowth.
A bear doesn't bounce. He shuffles. Like a fat man in baggy trousers, not in any hurry, unconcerned, he plods down a trail. His apparent slowness is deceptive; he's gone behind the trees in a moment.
Range cattle. Heavy. Slow. They stand watching, pondering; should we move out of the way? When they make up their minds, its as if the weight were almost too much for their legs.
Every live thing has its own way of moving. Even when we capture only a glimpse, under the trees, in the undergrowth, half behind the rocks, we can recognize them by their gait.
The same goes for the tiny beasties, the flying, crawling, sliding critters. In a tide pool full of seaweeds, a flash of twisty, splashing movement, gone in an instant, alerts us to the presence of a gunnel; a quick, sharp, straight-line dash into the dark is probably a sculpin. Crabs scuttle sideways, feet first and last. Flatworms ooze like a smear of oil. Anemones caught off guard shrink inwards.
In the aquarium, the crabs dig crab caves. Sliding to the right, dragging sand; slipping quickly back to the left, slightly downhill. Then back dragging sand again. Snails slide along so slowly, then suddenly haul themselves forward with a jerk as they bring their body up to their foot. Hermit crabs, even at rest, are never still; they wave long antennae and bright flag-like antennules constantly. Amphipods are in a continual flutter.
In the wet sand left after I washed off a new batch of eelgrass, a couple of the sand grains were moving. This way, rolling; that way, falling back. Looked like crabs to me, but so, so tiny! The hand lens confirmed it. I gently tipped the sand, with sand-grain crabs into the tank.
I saw them again when I next cleaned the tank, hiding in a corner away from all the activity. Still barely visible. Next, one turned up at the front of the tank, under a rock, excavating his miniature cave. Every time I passed, he was there, busy moving sand one grain at a time.
I found some time and got out the camera with the macro lens and the auxiliary flash, cleaned the glass and sat down to wait for him. And waited. He'd finished making his den, and crab-like, abandoned it to start digging somewhere else, out of sight.
It's all good. I took photos, while I waited, of other tinies.
|Young hairy hermit, on section of kelp stipe.|
|The crab's rock. It was covered in barnacles, but the crabs (larger ones) have eaten most of them and now orange-striped green anemones have moved into the empty shells.|
|Eelgrass isopods. Usually they're green; this one, and her babies (look among the red algae beside her) are a dull grey.|
|The kelp crab again. He's lost his sea lettuce cap and added a bit of rockweed.|
|On top of the sand where I was looking for the crab, an amphipod.|
- Un ermitaño pequeño en un pedazo de estipa de kelp.
- La piedra donde el cangrejito había hecho su cueva. La parte superior había estado cubierta de bálanos, pero los cangrejos más grandes los han estado comiendo. Ahora un grupo de anémonas ha ocupado las conchas vacías.
- Otra foto, con un bálano pescando.
- Una isopoda con su cría. Mira entre las algas rojas al su lado.
- El cangrejo kelp otra vez. Ha perdido su gorro de alga verde, y ahora lleva un pedazo de alga amarilla.
- Y en la superficie de la arena, donde buscaba el cangrejito, un anfípodo.