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Author Topic: FAQ: Crabs & sleeping... and Premature Demise on Gardner  (Read 37084 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2010, 11:35:50 AM »

... There's no shortage of ways to die on Niku.

FWIW, I've been keeping track of Ric's ideas about "How to die on Niku 101".
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Mark Petersen

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2010, 08:17:29 PM »

Replying to Ashley
Coconut crabs are definitely strong and you really don't want one to get hold of you, but they are also typically quite shy.  It's the little baseball-sized Strawberry Hermit crabs that will come after you.  Their claws are tiny and they can only pinch out a little chunk of you, but they can be quite aggressive and they often show up in gangs of a hundred or more. While we were eating lunch at the Seven Site we had to watch where we stepped because the ground was typically almost covered with Strawberry Hermits.  They'd climb up your boots and right up your pants leg if you let them.

Definitely a chilling thought.  While on a dive vacation to Fiji some years ago, I came across a beach not far from Savusavu that had an amazing bright yellow color.  It was the most beautiful beach I had ever seen. I walked down to it with the intent of laying down in the middle of it, but as I got very close, I found out that the yellow color was due to millions of tiny yellow crabs packed together.  My mood went from complete amazement to being creeped out that I had nearly laid down in the middle of the yellow bio mass.  The thought of being over-run and experiencing death by a million tiny pincer bites passed through my mind.  To this day I still wonder why they were packed so closely together.  I took some photos of it and will dig around and post it when I have time, but I think the crabs that I saw may have been similar to this fiddler crab:
http://www.thinkoholic.com/media/2006/01/17b/DSC05884-ani.gif

Later on the same trip a lone but much larger crab (a little smaller than a football) made it's way into the dining area and acted pretty aggressively before a German couple was able to shoo it back into the sand.  The crab didn't want to give an inch and for awhile it looked like a standoff :)  The crab in this case had two large pincers and looked sort of like the one in this photo (also from Fiji):  http://nature.berkeley.edu/~magnacca/pictures/Fiji/Taveuni%20Bouma%20purple%20crab2.jpg

At any rate, being attacked by a hundred or more of the baseball sized strawberry hermit crabs is a really sobering thought and not the way I would want to go...
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 10:28:49 PM by Mark Petersen »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2010, 05:11:47 AM »

Food Poisoning - Boltulism from the Norwich City food stuffs (canned mutton stew)
Starvation - possibly but more likly as a bie product of some other factor

Drinking Sea Water - maybe from trying to boil it as evidenced in the fire features? I wounder if the casterway tried boiling sea water and then condensing it on a mirror to get fresh drinking water.

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Don Dollinger

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2010, 10:01:51 AM »

I wholly agree with Alan...

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I'm guessing two/three weeks. I'm guessing after two/three weeks they might have just laid down to die.....

In my mind I find it hard to believe that they had a soft enough landing that they did'nt sustain at least some injury whether head injury or at least bad cuts and bruises.  After realization of their predicament they are thinking that they need to care for themselves for a "short" time until rescue arrives.  With no survival training or skills their mindset is not going to be that of a survivalist who goes into immediate survival mode.  Once they start running out of the food and water that they had with them and realize they may need to augment or provide their own, they begin hunting and gathering.  By this time they're weakened by poor diet and injury.  At first it was easy to catch boobies, turtles, and crabs as the animals did not perceive them as a threat but once they see some of their bretheran caught they catch on real quick and no longer just sit and allow themselves to be caught.  The easily accessible clambeds start getting used up, the animals now run, you need bait to fish, and it gets harder to just survive and to move around due to their injuries worsening and psychologically you are a mess. 

The Gilbertines <sp> found the skeleton while planting coconut trees after being there sometime so it was not right out in the open.  That being the case Bevington's crew would not have seen the body or bodies on their juant around the island.  100's of bone do not necessarily mean lots of meals and all of them can't conclusively be tied to AE and FN over the 70+ years there is evidence of others at the site.   
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2010, 10:48:19 AM »

That's an interesting assessment. 
All we can say about the landing is that it apparently left the airplane intact enough to be able to run the starboard engine to recharge the battery.
Perhaps you have experience as a castaway on a Pacific atoll.  I don't, but I do have some experience with the wildlife on Niku and I've never noticed any change in their behavior during the weeks that we spend on the island.
I think it's difficult to know how we would react to the stresses of being a castaway.  Imagining how someone else might react is infinitely harder.   
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Don Dollinger

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2010, 03:08:05 PM »

Am only surmising but would think that even a landing that left the airplane inheritently intact on that reef would be rough enough as to cause some injury although she wrecked her plane before and walked away from it so whose to know.

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Perhaps you have experience as a castaway on a Pacific atoll.  I don't, but I do have some experience with the wildlife on Niku and I've never noticed any change in their behavior during the weeks that we spend on the island.
Not refuting your statement, have spent sometime on uninhabitated tropical Islands but with a means of transport so not as a castaway.  We noticed the wildlife, mainly gulls and howler monkeys, but also other local wildlife would come right into camp with no fear until we showed aggression towards them to keep them away and then they kept their distance (of course when we left camp to do anything they had a field day, go figure)  :-[  I am "assuming" your crew had no reason to act with any aggression to keep the wildlife away so were still seen to not be perceived as a threat.  In my experience the wildlife will adapt real quickly depending on how you react towards them.  As I have never been to Niku the species (hermit crabs excluded  ;D) there may react differently then what I have experienced.

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I think it's difficult to know how we would react to the stresses of being a castaway.  Imagining how someone else might react is infinitely harder.
Expressing how I believe AE and FN would react which short of a hidden castaway dairy no one will ever really know.
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Gabe Gortva

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FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2010, 07:50:25 AM »

First and foremost, I would like to thank all of you for the wonderful and tireless work you have done. This is such a great mystery and the fact that its unraveling has been so well documented for the world enjoy is great. I was attracted to this site by news of the bone that could potentially be human and not the discovery show (though I am looking forward to seeing it if its available in Canada).

After reading through this site and realizing how much of a nuisance those crabs are, I started to consider how it would be possible to get some sleep as a castaway. After a few days I think the situation would become quite desperate.  Assuming that you don’t have a hammock, you would have to construct something out of the very limited supplies you have. I came to the conclusion that I would try to construct a raft to sleep on (fairly easy to do) and anchor it just a few meters off the shore in the calm of the lagoon. I’d have to pick a spot that’s closest to both the lagoon and the ocean (for spotting rescuers) and that’s furthest from the passages to the ocean (where presumably the water is the calmest). All of these characteristics exist near the seven site.

Of course, I’m assuming crabs can’t swim to the surface and climb on a raft, and I’m also assuming that the water in the lagoon is calm enough.

Just a crazy thought I guess
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2010, 08:05:09 AM »

Not so crazy an idea.

In the past, some team members opted to sleep in the Naiad (AKA zodiac) rather than on the ground at the 7 site, and when we were contemplating the possibility of having a team there for several days while the ship made a run back to Samoa, we considered a sleeping / cooking raft in the lagoon as an option.  No the crabs, at least the land crabs don't swim, and yes, the water is pretty calm.

Would take some effort to get it built while exposed to the sun, and without fresh water would be a risky undertaking.

Andrew
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Chris Johnson

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2010, 02:04:34 PM »

could the clearing for Coco's have changes the crabs usual habitat?  Even if the 7 site was the palce to be on Niku i'd want the least crab activity i could get.

Maybe the answer is that the 7 site was less favourable to crabs as it was in 1937 but recent changes have made it more habitable.
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Don Dollinger

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2010, 11:09:43 AM »

When Bevington did his survey, did it just indicate how many Coconut Trees there were or did it also indicate their location? If it indicated their location, the question would then be where were they in relation to the 7 site.  If they were primarily located on the other end of the island then wouldn't that keep at least the coconut crabs primarily in that location? 

If that was the case, then I would believe that it would be one reason for selecting that location over another... 

If it were me, and that were the case, I could deal with the hermit crabs but would want to be as far away from the coconut crabs while attempting sleep as I could be.  The deck of the S.S. Norwich City would start to look very inviting for a sleeping place until a better all around location could be found such as the 7 site...

LTM

Don
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Chris Johnson

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2010, 03:18:17 PM »

Ric says its the smaller crabs that are more agressive than the Coco Crabs but there must be something pre PISS that makes the 7 site more attractive than other places on the island regards crabs (unless the casterway had some form of crab proof device that is now dust and dreams)
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Randy W Kerr

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #26 on: December 25, 2010, 07:38:40 PM »

In my opinion regarding either of the lost flight crew being discovered by a three day expedition to the island, Ric just nailed it with this. Ric couldn't have said it better:

"It's difficult ...people with no survival training who are used to getting out of their airplane and going to champagne dinners as the toast of the town and now those same people are down, totally alone, probably injured, possibly severely injured, no survival gear, fish (but possibly toxic fish), birds and coconuts to eat, no clear water supply, no fruits/vegetables, infection, no hope of rescue, beautiful silver plane down into deeper water. I'm guessing two/three weeks. I'm guessing after two/three weeks they might have just laid down to die.....
I agree with the enormity of the task that a focused search would have had...let alone the fact that the three day expedition was not looking for anyone.  I had the unfortunate chance to search a similar location (Palmyra Atoll) for two missing boaters in the 1970s.  In the dense undergrowth you could walk within a couple of yards or so of a person on the ground and not have seen them.  Even smelling smoke would be a chance based on wind direction and speed.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:49:55 AM by J. Nevill »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2011, 06:14:41 AM »

Just been reading the archieves in my luch and come accross this from the NZ expedition to the island;

http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Documents/Hay_Journal/hayjournal.html

Looks like there was more than crabs to keep AE on her toes.

Question for expedition members past or present, how did you far regards rats?
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Dan Swift

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2011, 09:50:44 AM »

How did rats survive without fresh water?  Especially propagate. 
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Chris Johnson

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Re: FAQ: Crabs and sleeping on Niku
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2011, 09:55:29 AM »

There must be plenty of water pooling in foliage or caught in boles of tree's etc just as Ric has suggested this being a source of water for the casterway.  Interesting that prior to 1937 there may have been more rainfall for rats to survive and that since the island may have become drier since the settlers left why rats are less of a problem.
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