Mangrove Shallows of St. Thomas

The highlight of the cruise was getting away from it. On St. Thomas Island my wife booked an eco-tour outside the normal cruise excursions. On sea kayaks we paddled through mangrove forests to an island covered in hermit crabs. Everyone picked their own crab and put it in a small circular track dug into the dirt. Everyone began hollering and yelling encouraging their crab to race. In the end every crab but one lost interest. Slowly at his own pace the last remaining crab became the winner. It seemed fitting, in the big city it’s the rat race but here on beautiful St. Thomas Island it was the crab race.

memory sketch of the barracuda

Then with snorkel masks on we swam out into the protected lagoon where we saw rays, schools of fish and even a large puffer. The most impressive to me were the mangroves themselves. They stand on spindly legs in the salty lagoons. Their long legs form protective habitats for young fish to grow and develop. As we swam by the mangroves we saw a three foot barracuda taking advantage of the mangrove nurseries.

We also saw a large great blue heron and a green heron while navigating the waterways. Truth be told we found the green heron when I accidentally went down the wrong channel and while we were waiting for our guide to rescue us I saw the green heron stalking fish among the mangroves.

Before leaving the island we visited a secluded beach with few tourists, ate conch fritters and saw the catch of the day.St. Thomas was my favorite Island which had an easy going meandering feel to it, just like our racing hermit crabs.

 
The catch of the day

Coloring a Flying Lizard

 

Among some of my current projects is a prehistoric story about a Coelurosauravus. This prehistoric reptile lived during the Permian period (that’s before the time of the dinosaurs for non-dino geeks). They represent the earliest fossil record of gliding lizards. They were about two feet long with two large retractable wings. The wings were made up of long thin bones which extended from the animals ribs. The wings could be folded or extending like a fan. There is another un-related reptile, who convergently evolved similar wings simply called draco or the common gliding lizard. This animal didn’t exist in the Permian or the cretaceous period it lives in the anthropocene period our time.(I’ve waited a long time to write that).  In the Jungles of Southeast Asia this little lizard like Coelurosauravus developed wings which allow the lizard the glide in the rainforest canopy.

With this new story I’ve struggled to find a statisfying color pattern.  So I got out all my lizard, snake and amphibian books. Using the books as a spring board I did these water color studies to find a pattern that I liked.