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Stories from Bernie's new trip - heading "down under" to explore Tasmania

Tasmanian Crayfish
December 17, 2010

By now you know the drill. My attempt to ride a mule around Tasmania failed because, well, mule are near impossible to find here. Still, the ten dollar-bike I ended up taking off on has served me near as well as an equine companion. Better, in fact, I’d argue, when it come to meeting crayfish.

Last time I wrote, I mention how I landed a berth on the crayfish boat “Miss Carmen”. On it, I ended up going to sea for over a week trapping crayfish. Along with farm raised Atlantic salmon and abalone, saltwater crayfish, also called rock lobster here, flush out Tassie’s export coffers. Let’s just say I happened to be on the end of the pier when “Miss Carmen” rocked up, I chucked my bike aboard, and from there the journey was on – a week spent among the albatross and Southern
Ocean swell.

Southern Ocean deck cargo: Taking a ride on Miss Carmen (south of South East Cape, Tasmania))

Oh, and crayfish.

Suffice to say, for this mule traveler, it was a pretty intense week hauling pots and keeping my balance. And it was a calm week. Still, I took the chance to take some cool crayfish photos and learn a bit about these critters.

If you’re like me, when you think “crayfish”, you think “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band” and a piece of bacon on a string. Also called mud bugs (or yabbies in Australia), the crayfish I grew up with were the kind you fished out of the creek and boiled in a tin can to earn your Boy Scout survival merit badge.

Wrong crayfish.

Nope, Tasmanian crays are what we call spiny lobster back home. They live in the ocean and, if you don’t watch out, will pinch you so hard you’ll wish you’d stayed a Scout long enough to get your first aid merit badge. The ones that live inshore, off Tasmania’s cliffy southern coast, are dark crimson, the color of a ruby. They’re called “reds”. The ones that live in deeper water are lighter colored and stripped. They’re called “brindles”.

They also don’t look anything like the pale excuse for lobsters you find at the local mega supermarket – the ones that spend their final days under fluorescent lights crawling through milky water aerated by cut rate bubblers. Nah, these critters fight for survival out here, sandwiched as they are between Tasmania and Antarctica.

If you look really closely, you’ll see they’re built for survival. Their eyes bug out on stalks protected by horns. The plates on their tails sport spines. Their anntenae are sharp enough to puncture leather gloves.

But look closely and you’ll marvel at their rugged beauty. Here are some up close shots I thought you’d enjoy.

(Note due to internet troubles I can’t load all the shots. I’ll post you when they’re up. Dang… Bernie)

(For the albatross’ view of where these photos were taken, browse the map below. For a neat look, click on “Satellite” and zoom in a ways.)

Posted Friday December 17, 2010 by Bernie
Where this story happened:

Reader Comments:

looked through the pix. first thought you were sending us pix. of your new girl friend ,but then read the story .ha ha getting ready for our week long new years ride

— kenny lasthillmulefarm · Saturday December 18, 2010 · #

hi bernie Now these are mighty crayfish.! a different breed altogether huh! fantastic.
hope alls well. movin and writin from Fort Myers FL
peta

— peta · Sunday December 19, 2010 · #

Hiya Kenny. Great hearing from you! Yeah, it was love at first sight. Then I ate her. We caught half a ton of these crays this week. None were better looking than this one. Imagine if we could get them all hitched! Bernie in Tasmania

Bernie · Tuesday December 21, 2010 · #

Hello you crayfishing dude ! Have a good holiday down under.

Us

— Gil & Laura · Friday December 24, 2010 · #

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