Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have I told you about Gilbert?

You all know about Legoless now, the second of only two crabs I ever named. The first was Gilbert.

Gilbert was a special guy. He survived a long, delayed, and stressful trip from Dutch Harbor to Juneau in 2008. This was before I was technically a student, and at the time I was still in Dutch Harbor (and then the Bering Sea) working as a groundfish observer for NMFS.

working hard?
participating in the 2008 Dutch Harbor 4th of July parade
(I took a detour)

Gilbert resided with several other male snow crabs in the UAS wet lab. He blended in with the crowd, known simply as "2213", and went with the flow until one day a fight broke out over food. It seemed, for some of the more amped-up males, herring was not going to cut it that week. So they turned their chelae on Gilbert. But Gilbert fought back valiantly! In the end, they were only able to tear off a portion of his carapace, exposing some gill filaments (he later dropped another leg, no doubt from residual stress or damage).

Gilbert enjoying some squid

a close-up view, with his gills
exposed in the red area

At first I started calling him Crunch (for the sound I imagined his carapace made at the time of his betrayal), but the gill waving about in the water and my love of Anne of Green Gables led me to pick the name Gilbert. I moved him to his own special spot, next to some ladies (but still isolated because you never know how the ladies might behave). He thrived there for a time despite his gill flapping about, but it wasn't meant to last. One day the wet lab experienced a phytoplankton bloom in all the tanks; brown clouds were everywhere. It was just too much for poor Gilbert to take; I found him the next day, peacefully sleeping for eternity.

Rest in peace, Gilbert.

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