Tuesday, February 24, 2009

tree climbing crabs of sungei buloh

if you go on the mangrove boardwalk at sungei buloh - just behind the visitors' centre - when the tide is high, chances are that, along the way, you will see these tree climbing crabs. today, when the tide was unusually high at about 10.15 a.m., i saw quite a number of them clinging onto the trunks of a few trees in the mangrove swamp.

they appear to have quite good eyesight because when i moved closer to them, they would quickly disappear to another side of the trunk, away from my view. they seemed to be enjoying playing hide-and-seek with me. when i moved right, they would moved left and vice versa.

these crabs, i think, are the 'buak kee' which my friend nah referred to in one of his comments. the crabs, marinated in black sauce and vinegar, were eaten with porridge by chinese people of the teochew dialect group.

according to him, the crabs were hairy but these tree climbers did not look hairy. maybe, i was not close enough to see the details. they also looked bigger than the 'buah kee' that i remembered from my kampong days.

another type of crab that climb tree is the coconut palm crab found on christmas island. i have only seen pictures of this crab.

however, christmas island is well-known for another type of crab - the red crab. these crabs crawl from the forests to the coast every year, usually in the month of october. a friend, who used to work on christmas island, often talks about the phenomenon of the migration of the red crab; about how the whole place was carpeted by these red crabs. you can read about it in this blog.

you can read more about the sungei buloh crab here.

1 comment:

nah said...

So ‘buah kee’ is a tree-climbing/vinegar crab or Episesarma. Those days, at the saw-mill, these crabs crawled all over the felled tree trunks in the river. The hairy ones which I had sucked must have been the ‘buah kee kong’.
These crabs have to play hide-and-seek with you or they will end up like their ancestors hunted and marinated in black sauce.
The only way to make them come rushing to you with open arms is to do what this old man did in the 50s, by feeding them with your crap.