Alien Crustaceans?

I duckdive and stick my head into a little cave. It’s covered in soft corals and weed and stinging hydroids. A flash of movement, and it seems to be a pair of claws waving about it, but it’s so well camouflaged it’s hard to tell. I get closer, and I recognise little eyes peering out at me.

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Eyes and claws. Is it a crab or some kind of out-of-this-world alien? Am I snorkelling on a reef in Thailand, or floating in space?

I swim over to another coral bommie. Bright orange and pink polyps cling to their limestone skeleton, and I have a moment of déjà vu. Movement. Eyes. I’ve found another alien crustacean hiding in the coral crevices.

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And so my morning goes. So many weird and wonderful sea-critters lurking amongst the rocks and coral.

(For more of our travels to Thailand and the cool stuff we’ve seen underwater, head over to our sailing blog, the Alpha Odyssey).

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Millions of years ago, a big coral reef covered much of what is now South East Asia. Just as they do now, coral polyps living in the reef secreted limestone as they built the coral, and other marine critters like shells and urchins deposited calcium.

Fast forward a bit and the tectonic plates below started to rub against each other and rumble. The continents started to move. The reef was thrust skyward by the movement of big slabs of rock and the sea level started to change.

Fast forward a lot more and where there was a reef, there’s now hundreds of little islands. Rock pillars jutting straight out of the sea.

Fast forward a bit more to present day. The islands in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand are spectacular. But it’s what is hidden within that is most impressive. Weather and time have carved their way through the limestone rock to produce caves and inner lagoons. Karstic formations ripe for exploration!

For more about exploring the hongs in Phang Nga Bay or sailing around Thailand, check out my sailing blog: the Alpha Odyssey.

Growth begins with a seed or an egg or a spark.

For nudibranchs (fancy-looking sea-slugs), their lifecycle starts with eggs laid in an intricate flower-like ribbon.

(To see what hatched out of these and for more about the nudi life cycle, check out this post…)

The Lost Thing

I stumbled into a regional art gallery while I was exploring. They always surprise me.

The Perc Tucker gallery in Townsville had a fantastic exhibition: behind the scenes of an animated movie, Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing. 

Amazing animation, cool collages, and a thought-provoking story-line. I especially loved the explanations of where his inspiration came from: signs that we recognise from everyday life.

I’m not sure where the exhibition is headed next, but look out for it. It’s worth a visit.

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Today is the tomorrow you expected yesterday.”

A symbol of incredible change is a butterfly. They all go through “complete metamorphosis”, starting life as eggs, then morphing into larva, pupa and finally emerging as majestic winged creatures.

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The delta from start to finish is a miracle of nature!

Message in a bottle

The other day I was beachcombing on a deserted tropical island (Russell Island, in the Great Barrier Reef), and I found a bit of sea-glass. It was all milky white and smooth along the edges from being churned around in the ocean, rubbing up against sand and rocks and dead bits of coral.

On closer inspection, I could see the faint remains of the branding: Coke. In a previous life, it was a coca-cola bottle!

It got me thinking: if this bottle could talk, what stories would it be able to tell?

Where was it from? I’ve been to some pretty remote places: Bougainville (an island in PNG), Afghanistan, Uganda. But I’ve always been able to buy coca-cola, so it could be from anywhere. Who drank from it? Was it just an afternoon thirst-quencher? Or was it a mixer for a party? And where has it been since it fell in the ocean? Did it float for a while, past big tankers and small little yachts, or creatures from the deep? Or did it sink straight to the bottom and roll around with the other detritus on the sea-floor. And where are all the other shards of the bottle?

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Post publication edit: Andrea from the Daily Post and I have similar thoughts about transience

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