Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reef Walking at Night for Lobster

Pascal from Steel Band is a 'hunter/gatherer' of the first kind. When we asked him where the best place was to get something to eat on the reef, he told us we probably won't find any lobster while snorkeling. And unfortunately, spearfishing is very risky here...ciguatera is very prevalent in Gambiers and those big fat grouper looking at us from under every coral head could be lethal.

Apparently, the way to find lobster here in the Pacific is to walk on the reef for them at night. The best time to do this, according to Pascal, is on a rising tide on a new moon (when it is darkest out and the buggers can't see you coming). The lobster are supposed to be coming up onto the reef top to feed around that time.

OK, well, we are not generally night people. It is safest to be back aboard when it gets to be dark, and we are usually not ready with dinner until 7:30 or 8pm. However, this sounded like a lark, and Visions was up for it too. We had an early dinner and withheld the drinks til after our adventure.

We gathered on the east end of the beach at Puaumu at 7pm, armed with sturdy tennis shoes, bright flashlights, gloves, and mesh bags. Dave also brought his Keys 'tickle stick' and net, which turned out to be useful. Pascal said we should be walking along the top of the reef (old dead reef) a couple of meters just inshore from the breakers. You just spot them with your flashlight and pick them up. How cool is that?

Gram from Visions and Pascal from Steel Band tromped off down the reef pretty quickly. Bill and Jo and Dave and I were much more tentative. Dave had to go back to the dinghy for something, and while he was gone, Jo found a smallish slipper lobster and Bill bagged him. When Dave came back, he already had 2 more.

We proceeded out to where Pascal said we should be--it was more difficult--deeper, rockier, and some wave action. After 10 minutes of nothing, we went back inshore a little where we'd found the other slipper lobster, and eventually found a total of 7 of them. It was slightly easier to bag them with the net and tickle stick, but it was not that hard to just grab them with a gloved hand.

Meanwhile, Pascal and Gram came back from way down the reef, with a stone crab and a good sized lobster.

We had had enough, and had at least something to show for our efforts. We ate Lobster Penne and Lobster Alfredo for dinner the next night, and it sure beat 'old frozen chicken (again)'!

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