Every time I go to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod, I always take the same walk through the marsh, over the boardwalk, and out to the bay. There are half a dozen other trails there and I’m sure they’re quite lovely. I just always head for the bay.
It’s best at low tide, when you can walk way out on the tide flats. But I always get stuck just past the end of the marsh, just at the beginning of the tide flats, where thousands of small holes in the sand reveal the presence of fiddler crabs.
Communing with the crabs requires some patience. They’re quite shy, and as a result it’s possible to walk through their territory without realizing all the activity that goes on there — they’ll just stay in their holes until the threat passes. Not only do you have to wait them out, you have to be incredibly still in the process. They can sense the slightest movement, even if you just shift your weight a bit. Sometimes moving only enough to focus the lens sends them scurrying for cover.
But eventually they do emerge. If they’re excavating, they’ll bring up a tiny ball of sand in their smaller front claw (usually the left, but a few of these crabs are southpaws). With a longer lens this year, I was able to get a more detailed picture from farther away. I’m sure the last time I saw a creature like this it was in one of those classic 1950s sci-fi extravaganzas.