[Tweeters] Flaming Turtle, Flying Geese

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed Apr 22 10:23:33 PDT 2015

It was low tide in Port Townsend on Monday (4/20) so I bopped over to Fort Worden to check out my favorite section of North Beach, right near the Lighthouse. I'm glad I did.

Conditions were good for viewing sea creatures with my close -focusing binoculars - water clear, good sunlight, and no wind. Saw all sorts of cool things. But the coolest thing was under a rock - Flaming Turtle!
Flaming Turtle sounds like it could be a spicy cajun terrapin dish (I love cajun food, such as I've had - including turtle), but no, this flaming turtle was a Turtle Crab (Cryptolithodes sitchensis).
The Turtle Crab is a wonderfully weird crab. It don't particularly look like a crab when you first see it ( that's why they call it 'crypto'). Even though I've spent decades snooping about our Salish Sea beaches, I've only seen two of 'em - both here at North Beach. The first one I found last year, and as I reported on Tweeters, it resembled a wave- washed broken bit of an off-white porcelain plate. The one I found on monday was flaming orange-red.
The ol' Turtle Crab don't look too crabby at first sight because it's carapace completely covers it's legs when viewed from above- you have to turn it over to find out it really is a crab. This flaming orange -red one, somewhat resembled a patch of orange-red encrusting sponge. Crypto. Hey, you can google, or whatever, this species online to see what I'm talking about, but I do find it fascinating how a single species of anything can vary so much in coloration. I'm no scientist, but really, how does this color variation happen? I'm kind of thinking it's filed in the 'Mysteries of Nature' file.
The day ended at the dinner table here at Alzheimer's Acre. Most of the way through dinner with my folks, I looked out the big windows facing south and spotted a big V of geese flying our way. While devastating in the memory department, Alzheimer's still allows joy in the present moment. My folks were thrilled to see that big V of geese. Mom, up till that point, pretty pooped out from the day, rushed outside to the deck for a better gander at the geese. "Wow, that's neat!" she said.
Just for the record, they were about 100 White-fronted Geese - headed North.
Jeff Gibsonreporting fromPort Townsend Wa

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