Back before I appreciated the true wonder of life, rock pools were a place I could pit two crabs against each other in a fight to the death.
Unfortunately it is not in a crab's nature to engage in fatal sparring and so to satisfy my blood lust I would have to crush them with a rock. Then go and find two more.
Thankfully I have changed somewhat since my childhood and I am ashamed of my past idiocy. These days if I do take something from a rock pool it is only because I intend eating it. However, given my great fondness for food, this does not diminish my historically deadly impact on rock-based marine life.
At New Plymouth's Kawaroa reef there is plenty of scope for both fossicking just for fun and for food, as you can find paua and kina along its outer edges.
Well, that is the theory. On the day I went down I couldn't find either of these edible things in sizes other than "terribly, terribly small" and so decided to deny I had even tried to look and instead focused on fossicking for fun, like all the other kids down there.
To truly appreciate a rock pool a man must overcome his urge to jump in and lift up every rock in a misguided display of manly strength.
He should instead sit still.
It is only when sitting still that you can observe how much life a rock pool holds and the longer you sit the more life you will see.
There will always be a shrimp which you can call Shrimpy. There isn't a rock pool on this planet without two hermit crabs - Hermy and Crabby - and there will be too many snails to even count, though you can give it a go.
Then there is the sea anemone, the strange red jelly-pudding sucky things, starfish, kina, limpets, barnacles, worms and if you are very lucky, a big purple crab.
The urge, when looking, is to touch but touching of these animals should be off limits because the distance between touching and killing, even accidently, is very short indeed.
And unless you intend eating it, killing something is pointless and disgraceful.
It wouldn't be as bad as encouraging children to take rock pool creatures home in plastic bottles and thereby sentencing Shrimpy and Crabby to a slow, miserable death, but it would be in the same ball park.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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