So this food took a little more work that the previous posts... and you have to risk a venomous sting. Dad has collected white sea urchins in the Caribbean before where we had a sushi chef prepare them for us. This time we were collecting black sea urchin, which unlike the white ones are venomous and we had nobody to help prepare them.
We headed out to the reef at low tide, Mom and Noah helped spot the urchins under the reef and in their hiding spots and Dad pried them free and carried them to shore.
It is a little tricky carrying them with just two sticks because they wiggle their spines quiet a bit and you don't want to touch them. Next time we'll bring a bag or bucket.
The urchins have beaks, kinda like an octopus beak, on their undersides. Once you break away most of the spines for safeties sake, you tap around the beak where their shell is softest to break it open.
The internal part of the beak was way bigger than I expected, it's the white thing sitting on top of the urchin. The cavity is filled with sand and a dark filmy tissue which you have to scrape and rinse away with a little water, ocean water in this case.
Once everything is cleaned up, there are little strips of spongy flesh running along the interior of the shell. We just used a spoon to to scrape them out and enjoy. For you none sushi goers, it tastes like the sea and is most certainly best fresh. If you ever see "uni" on the sushi menu, this is it!
Each of our little urchins produced little more than a spoonful each, but it was delicious and fun catching and preparing our own snack at the beach.
We washed it all down with a coconut that fell from a nearby tree. Mom has become an expert at opening the young coconuts.
September and October are the main months in which humpback whales migrate past our little island. We have had some rainy days lately and cured a little of our boredom by sitting on the coast watching the whales. Mother and calf are the easiest to spot since the little ones can't hold there breath as long (the adults can go down over 20 minutes). We have seen lots of spouts and tail slaps, but no breaching. I wish we had calmer waters around our island, as it would be amazing to see them underwater as people so on some other Pacific islands.
NOAH NEW: Noah is a wild man and earned some nice scars on his forehead this weekend after an over confident run. He is extremely strong willed and outgoing, which lands him in "time out" sometimes. He is also learning new words everyday and likes playing the harmonica more that I would have expected.
We finally made the trip to Fagatele Bay which we've been told for some time has some of the best snorkeling the island has to offer. The Bay is not far from our house and is adjacent to Larson Bay which we have visited several times. While the northern portion of Larson Bay had a large sandy beach and very shallow coral, Fagatele Bay has a rather small beach, but the shallow coral gives way to 20 to 30 foot depths with coral troughs.
The drive to the trail head was rough and almost requires 4-wheel drive but we made it. The hike in is all down hill and steep enough to require a rope for support in some spots.
The trail ends on a small sheltered beach on the eastern side of the Bay.
You can't tell from the photo above, but the beach was mostly shaded by trees which caused a bit more of a mosquito problem than we liked... not forgetting the dengue fever and chikungunya outbreaks recently. As a result of the mosquito's, small beach and impromptu soccer game that occurred on the already limited beach... our time here was short. Noah and Mom splashed around for a half hour while Dad went to see what the snorkeling was like.
I didn't spend more than a half-hour snorkeling, but it's definitely one of the best spots I've been to on the island. Lot's of fish and the water is deep enough to dive down and explore. I swam along with a sea turtle for a bit and saw a Spotted Puffer on my way back to shore. Luckily the ocean was calm, because getting back in over the shallow reef in rough conditions would be very treacherous. A friend of ours badly hurt his foot and ankle last year and now I know why. The depths got from about 10-15 ft to 6 inches instantly, even in calm water the waves pushed you around as the broke at the reef. I am definitely looking forward to exploring here again!
The Jaskowiak Family
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