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Invasion of the Land Crabs

Friend Mathilde and I decided it would be a nice evening for a night ride on Palm Beach’s Lake Trail. We hadn’t ridden together since the LOST Full Moon ride where she did the Frog Dance two months ago.

The temps were nice after being at the broiling level during the day, traffic was non-existent and the winds weren’t all that bad. A perfect combination.

What’s that?!?

Land Crab on Lake Trail in Palm Beach, FLOn our way back from the Palm Beach Inlet (the cops were putting the park to sleep just as we pulled up), I saw something in the middle of the trail. MP blew right on past, but I stopped to check it out.

“Is it a frog?” MP called back hopefully.

I could tell she was warming up for another Frog Dance.

I checked it out; It checked ME out

Sorry, MP, it wasn’t a frog.

It was one of our many land crabs. They, like many other organisms in Florida, reach peak reproduction activity during the full moon in the summer.

MP remained unmoved by him (her?)

I guess she only identifies with frogs (she IS of French heritage, even though she claims she didn’t watch a single minute of the Tour de France this year).

I can remember seeing carpets of living and dead crabs on A1A along the ocean in years gone past. There was no way you could avoid them. I don’t know whether development, traffic or hungry crab lovers have taken their toll but it seems there aren’t as many of the crabs around as in the old days.

Like something out of a horror movie

TW PSL 2004 Hurricane Frances damageHurricane Frances peeled back the roof on The Palm Beach Post’s bureau office in Pt. St. Lucie in 2004. Terry Williams, one of my telecom techs was dispatched to see if the phone system was salvageable.

He got to the office just before dark and picked his way through debris and watersoaked ceiling tiles by the glow of his flashlight.

He had just reached the spooky bowels of the building when he heard something moving.

“Scurry, scurry, scurry, scratch, scratch, scratch.”

He’d take another step, stop and listen and the sounds would start again.

“It was just like in the horror movies where you’re sitting at the edge of your seat screaming, ‘Don’t go in there. Don’t open that door.'”

Suddenly his flashlight beam picked up eyes

TW crab PSL 2005 Hurricane FrancesIt was a HUGE crab. And it was waving his claws menacingly at him.

Terry knew that land crabs are naturally shy and pose no threat to humans unless caught and handled.

Terry just wasn’t sure that the CRAB knew that, particularly since this crab had lots of buddies taking over the office with him.

Telecom Techs are made of strong stuff. Ignoring visions of being picked clean and leaving nothing behind but bones and his toolbelt, he made it to the phone room where he determined that the only place in the whole area that the ceiling HADN’T come down was right over our equipment.

He opted to return in the daylight to salvage it. I couldn’t blame him.

[Note: Terry shot the two pictures at the bottom of the page.]

2 comments to Invasion of the Land Crabs

  • George P

    Probably because I’m not in the right place at the right time, but I haven’t seen those crabs here. I recall seeing tons of them as a kid at Matheson Hammock park in Coral Gables though.

    I think Edna Buchannan writea great story about a crab and a murder scene: A decomposed body with no IDs was found in an area with some of those crabs around. A smart cop thought to check a crab burrow and found the crab and it’s souvenir, the dead person’s ring, which helped ID the body. Don’t recall if the story’s true or from one of her novels.

    Ken: I had the impression the Lake Trail closes at sunset. True? Will they hassle you for cycling on it then or after dark?

  • George,

    I’ve never seen a sign with hours on it posted on the Lake Trail and I’ve ridden it as late as midnight with no issues. In all my years of riding it at night, I can recall only one cop interaction.

    A female cop I had talked with when she was doing bike duty had parked her squad car on the trail to check out a couple of fishermen. When I pulled up, she apologized profusely for blocking the path.

    In fact, with one exception, I’ve never had a bad experience with a cop in Palm Beach when I was on a bike.

    Son Adam and a couple of his buddies went on a night ride with me a few years back. Before we left the house, I made sure everyone had headlights and taillights.

    We were on the last leg home and I was running about a block ahead of them when I heard a burst of siren and a loud voice hollering over a PA, “Get off the bikes, NOW!!!”

    I turned around and saw a cop stopping the boys.

    He was giving them a royal ration about how he could take them to jail and impound their bikes for riding without a taillight.

    I walked up and said, “If that bike doesn’t have a taillight, it’s because it must have bounced off. I know it had one because I put it on myself. If you’d like to retrace our route, I’m sure we’ll find it blinking away on the side of the road. (Unspoken: ‘Asshole, Sir.’) In the meantime, I’ll put one of my spares on his bike, OK (unspoken, again)?

    Grumbling, he said we could go.

    The park with the water fountain at the north end of the trail at the inlet DOES close at night.