After another data processing day, Karl and Cindy planned a low-tide excursion to the tidepools out by the Bundegi mangroves. On our way through town I looked for other good photo-ops, but Exmouth is not an easy place to photograph.
Because the terrain is relatively flat and unoccupied, the lines of the road are wide and straight, with street lights and telephone poles stretching with impunity through town and out into the bush. Paved and dirt roads divide the spider-webbed shrubs and emus with their chicks cross boldly in front of cars. Kangaroos appear to be less lucky with the crossings, as evidenced by the orphaned joeys we met last week and the roadside remains we pass daily en route to our boat ramps.
Out on the road Australians wave to one another, each driving his or her own white truck trailered to his or her own white boat. It’s very interesting walking the neighborhood in the evenings- the houses are colorful or drab, clean or dingy, landscaped or bare- but nearly everyone has a truck or “ute” (utility vehicle) of some kind, and a boat parked out front or in a shed around the side of the house. You’d be crazy not to, Tim says, in an area as rich in interesting sea life as the North West Cape and Ningaloo Reef. It’s certainly a life that agrees with us, or did when we were out on the water a few days ago:
Anyways, out at the low tide we saw a tiny nudibranch, some hairy crabs and a blue swimming crab, and of course our friends the brain-footed (cephalopod) octopuses. We’re still pretty sure these aren’t blue-ringed, due to the lack of… blue rings… but they look like pretty effective predators even lacking the potent venom as they crawl through tide pools and flush little fish from their hiding places. Few things are as fun to watch as a hunting octopus, and if you stay still and quiet enough they go about their business as if you weren’t there. They swell and stretch, by turns delicate and strong, prodding and sweeping and peering around in shallow puddles. There isn’t a straight line in their bodies, nor do they search in grids like humans draw across maps of the cape, but they master their environment more completely than any creature I’ve seen.