More Spider Crabs

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Spider crabs have kept me pretty busy during the last few days. During the weekend many of the club regulars were busy organizing some boat training and for a while it looked like there would be no actual diving happening. James and I were still keen but we couldn’t find a free car. Luckily Hugh saved the day and offered to take us down to Rye with him on Sunday.

Despite the windy Saturday and some rain conditions underwater were quite good and even slightly better than during my first dive with the crabs a week earlier. After some initial problems with leaking regs and underweighted divers we all got underwater and found out that there were still plenty of crabs left. While the total number of crabs was maybe slightly lower (not that I was trying to count!), the crabs were piled in tighter making for an even more impressive sight.

Some rays had also arrived to the area to hunt the crabs and I met one particularly large specimen (with a wingspan of maybe two meters!). We also got separated for a while but next to the pier this was not really an issue. Eventually the wetsuit divers started to feel the cold and we headed back to the pier after a very enjoyable dive.

I had been trying to find people for a night dive for a while and as James was also keen I finally got what I wished for. After our first dive it was already pretty late in the afternoon so we had only a short wait before sunset. Hugh decided to wait on the beach while James and I geared up and headed down the pier again.

This was the first night dive for James but things went very smoothly. Rye is an easy site in most conditions and a pretty good spot for a night dive as well. The sight of so many crabs in the darkness was quite impressive and also little creepy. I also saw one rather large sandworm digging into the bottom, they are quite curious creatures! As this was the second dive of the day and James didn’t have that much air in the tank left, we kept things short and already came back up after around 20 minutes. It was still nice to do a proper night after a long break!

And if this wasn’t enough, there were still people left who were keen to see the crabs during the week. On Monday I got contacted by both Alex and Joey who wanted to head down there. There was no day that would have suited everyone though and I ended diving on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Not that I was really complaining even if the drive to Rye and back can get really boring.

On Tuesday I did two dives with Alex. There was some rain when we were gearing up but luckily weather cleared quickly and the conditions were absolutely perfect underwater. By the time we got to water sun was already shining and the rays of sun were playing on the sandy bottom. This time around the crabs had moved little closer to the pier, there were lots of crabs on the pylons and several huge piles right next to the pier. In addition to the crabs we had one close encounter with a huge ray in the shallow water. This was easily the best dive I did with the spider crabs and one of the top shore dives I have done in Victoria.

After the first dive we waited for Alex to warm up again. Luckily weather stayed sunny and warm. Unfortunately, the same sun that was warming us up was also shining on my dome port. I think there might have been just a little moisture inside the housing from Monday when I put my gear together. Either way, when we were already walking on the pier I noticed that my dome port was fogged pretty badly. I was hoping it would clear in the cold water and decided not to turn back and get it fixed.

This was a pretty big mistake. While some of the fog evaporated the dome was still nowhere clear by the end of the dive. My few photo attempts ended up really blurry so I just focused on enjoying the dive. With the superb conditions and the fact that I had already done one dive there earlier in the day it still ended up a very enjoyable dive.

On Wednesday I headed back to Rye with Joey for one final dive with spider crabs. Things still looked quite promising from the pier, several big rays circling around and crabs visible in the shallow water. Unfortunately when we got below water we found out that vast majority of the crabs had marched off during the night. While there were still plenty of single crabs and some smaller groups the huge piles from earlier days were gone.

It was still a pretty decent dive, we met a couple of rays (one was a baby, the second a rather big adult) and the conditions were quite good as well. There would have been more interesting stuff to see in the very shallow water (more crabs and 6+ big rays visible from the pier after the dive!) but unfortunately we were diving pretty much during the lowest tide and had to turn back as water simply got too shallow for diving.

With all this diving I was happy enough, I got to do a total of six dives with the spider crabs. Too bad about Joey missing out most of the crabs on Wednesday, but at least she was there during our first spider crab dive on 20th May and got to see the huge piles as well.

2 Responses to “More Spider Crabs”

  1. Hi Matti,
    I’m a professor at the University of Connecticut, and I’m working on an e-lecture about the effects of ocean acidification, warming and de-oxygenation. To better illustrate a recent research paper about spider crabs ( I would like to ask your permission to include on of your awesome spider crab pictures from 2012.
    Please shoot me an email, if you’d be okay with it – the photo credit is of course yours and cited.

    Thank you so much, hope to hear from you soon!

  2. Masa says:

    Replied via email, you are welcome to use the photos as long as photo credit is given.

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