Tweed Heads, Australia: Catch a Crab – by Caleb

Today we went on a saltwater river cruise called catch a crab. Catch a crab is a company that organizes crab catching and other water activities for tourists like us. We happened to be on the largest crab catching boat in the world! We did three water activities including crab catching. We did yabby catching, crab catching (who would have guessed!), and bird feeding.

DSCF1738On our first activity, the yabby catching, our guide for the morning (who happened to be quite fun and humorous) showed us what the heck a yabby is before we went out to collect them. A yabby looks a lot like a miniature shrimp. For those of you who don’t know what a shrimp is, I’m sorry I can’t help you! Our guide showed us a few holes in the river bottom, where yabbies live. Then he laid a floating sieve on the river. After the sieve had settled on the water, he grabbed a metal pole and pierced the mud about two feet below the surface. Finally, he tied the sieve to the pole to keep it from floating away. He went back on the boat to retrieve something and returned a moment later with a device that looked somewhat like a machine gun. As it turns out, you use this more like a large air pump than a weapon. He explained that this pump we would be using was actually a yabby catcher. He gave us a demonstration on how to use it. He plunged the silver metal tube into the mud where a yabby hole was. As he did this, he pulled on the handle to suck in the dirt and hopefully a yabby as well. Overall, he did this in one smooth motion. Then, he pulled the pole out of the mud as if he were pulling up a pile of dirt with a shovel. Once he lifted the yabby catcher out of the water, he turned it sideways, and slowly pushed down on the handle of the so-called “pump” which slowly released the mud onto the sieve. Then he shook the sieve to see if he had caught any yabby. He told us we had to do this five times in the same hole and then move on to a new hole if you don’t catch anything. We had half an hour in the warm river water to try to catch a yabby.

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Connor, mom and I went up and down the river unsuccessfully trying to catch a yabby. The most exciting thing we caught on that stop were a couple of tiny, tiny crabs and a lot of sea grass. As it turned out, no one else caught a stupid yabby either! We decided that the two possible reasons why, were because yabby are really stubborn or, we were completely and utterly hopeless.

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Upon returning to the boat, our guide went around asking for volunteers to pull up the crab traps. Connor and I volunteered and we were the second people to pull up a crab trap. As we started to pull up the trap it became quite easy, which for us happened to be quite a shock. However, things did not remain easy, for a moment later a massive tug seemed to pull on the rope we were holding. Connor and I struggled to have the cage reach the surface but we eventually succeeded in pulling up the cage. For a second, Connor and I did not see anything in the cage but then we noticed an enormous crab rolling around in it. A few Chinese ladies shrieked behind us. The guide opened the cage and grabbed the crab. Then he brought it to who knows where. For all I know, it could have been lunch. Many other people did what we did later, while we sat inside and talked to the guide.

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Ten minutes later the guide brought out a bucket of fish and placed it on the deck. People came from upstairs and down onto the front deck without the guide even having to call them. The smell gave it away! He grabbed a chunk of fish and tossed it up in the air. Then from the middle of nowhere, a pelican swooped down and grabbed the fish from mid air just like that. Next thing we know a whole flock of pelicans had gathered in the water in front of the boat. A swarm of gulls also appeared above our heads. Also, among these two kinds of birds, we spotted a hawk that wanted to join the party. We threw fish in every which direction with out one piece ever touching the water.

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When the excitement finally died down, we returned inside and the guide showed us the power of a crab. He explained that a crab is actually very strong when aggressive. To prove this he showed us a carrot. “This is your finger,” he explained. He hit the crab a couple of times with the carrot and then put it in front of the crab.

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The crab grabbed it with its pincers and snapped it in half with ease. He explained the difference between the male and the female and then handed us a fishing rod and we went out and fished. Connor caught a nice big fish and I helped him reel it in. Then the captain told us what kind of fish it was and released it. Apparently if you keep a fish that is not big enough, there is a five thousand dollar fine.

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Once the cruise was over we hit shore and many people got out of the boat. But low and behold we didn’t have to! We got to have lunch on the boat so once people left we were served a whole cooked crab, a whole cooked chicken, and four cooked pieces of ham that happened to be gigantic! Alongside that we got an “all u can eat buffet” that had bread, salad, coleslaw, rice and soup. We ate and greatly enjoyed our delicious meal, and then headed upstairs to get a better view of the river. The captain took us on a quiet, peaceful river cruise for twenty minutes before docking and letting us off the boat. This was an amazing experience and a ‘must do’ if you happen to be in New South Wales on the east coast of the amazing country of Australia.

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