Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Attack of the Sea Robin!

I know, I know they’re not known for being vicious, but as I found out this week, Sea Robins can be very aggressive. While minding my own business documenting some of our newest test plantings off Little Ram Island (Shelter Island) I was accosted by a male Sea Robin in breading color.

Kim and I were just completing a rock planting in about 8 feet of water and I wanted to document the extent of our work with some “before” pictures to compare to what will hopefully be great “after” pics as the grass spreads. You’ll have to check back to see if this actually happens.

Anyway, while I was busy taking pics, I saw this guy approach pretty close and start to do wide circles around me in and out of the extent of my visibility. Most fish we come across, except for our flounders at St. Thomas, which is another “fish” story, are very wary of us and either dart away as we approach or stay away from us completely.

I have experienced a menhaden (aka Bunker) school close up in the LIS that reminded me of a show on the Discovery or the National Geographic Channel as the metallic school morphed around me as it passed. I have also had stripers circle me as well. However, in both cases if I exhaled the fish instinctively moved away.

This time was different! What I thought would be another quaint encounter with a docile denizen of the deep turned into a case of aggravated assault.

At first I thought this guy was simply there to clean up a couple of the spider crabs that I had sacrificed for the cause. Yes, I must admit that I like to offer up spider crabs to nearby fishes as there are more spider crabs out there than we can shake a stick at…and they like to dig up our plots. The phrase to “kill to birds with one stone” comes to mind but “to kill two crabs with one stone” is right on target. Back to the story; this guy had more on his mind than the free handouts though.

As I innocently went about my business getting some great shots of the plantings apparently he grew tired of me trespassing in HIS territory. That’s when it all changed. As I looked down in the viewer to look at a previous pic he suddenly charged me and spread his wing-like pectoral fins out and almost hit me in the face. I couldn’t believe it!

It took me a second to process what had just happen in the rush of activity, but I realized he meant business as he circled even more vigorously. At that point we were done with our work and I was more than happy to leave this proud male to his own devices as I doggy paddled back to the boat with my tail between my legs. I had to give it to him for sticking up to something that was much larger. And, let’s face it I know when I had been summarily beaten…


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