Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. ~ Rumi

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Swamp Fishing

Water surrounds us now…the air is thick with it and the rains are coming more frequently, bringing that southern moisture from the equator. The cicada’s voices are louder during the day and those tiny tree crickets are more frequent at night. Pools of water are forming in every available spot filling with invertebrates and frog’s eggs and in some cases even fish. It’s a delight to hear the ensemble of frog’s voices before and just after a rain and disheartening to still hear that squeaky shoe voice of the invasive Cuban frog. This morning they were falling out of the cabbage palms!

As I entered the swamp, looking closely on the bark of the cypress, I can spot the usual suspects; green anoles and five lined skinks. I even glimpse a rat snake reluctantly crossing over a narrow strip of water to get to the next tree.

But something else catches my attention. At first, I think I see the spent holdfast of a bromeliad but as I get closer I recognize the fishing spider, Dolomedes okefinokensis almost the size of my hand clasping what appears to be a shrimp. Although their main diet consists mostly of insects they have been spotted feeding on small fish and frogs. Their velvety hairs are hydrophobic which allows them to use surface tension to sit on the water with their forearms extended and with their vibration detecting organs, grab their meal. Because of their specialized covering they are also able to submerge themselves, a possible adaption to capture prey or evade predators. A thin film forms around them from the air that gets trapped between the hairs. This underwater air supply allows them to stay buoyant and even breathe under water. Once they have grasped their meal they move out of the wet onto dry land or in this case the trunk of a pond cypress, to eat.

I continued my walk and noticed another possible wonder. Nestled into the hollow of a branch was another invasive Cuban frog. Mm… if only he was in the water!

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