The Saga of Diego Garcia Continues with:

Division of Ecological Perplexities Presents:
Nature: Red in Tooth and Claw!

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There were, of course, many creatures in the sea.  Unfortunately, I didn't have an underwater camera and so have no shots of the reef or the fish, moray eels, sea snakes, etc., from below the surface.  Fortunately, some loyal members of the PPDRDG have managed to smuggle out photos of several species especially for this expose.  My thanks to Beckie for the dolphin, blue fish, and sea turd photos.

However, just walking along the coral lips of the barachois, or on the beach revealed many interesting sights.  Sea Turtles were quite common, with Hawksbills being in the lagoon year round.  They could be found at high tide up inside the various barachois, feeding on the algae that lived on the coral shelves.  There were also Greens seasonally, and they laid eggs on the southwest beaches on the ocean-side.  On several occasions I found new nests (which I did not open!) and many hatched nests, with the leathery eggs "shells" all over the place, and little tracks leading down to the water,  just like on a Jacques Costeau TV show.  Unfortunately, I never saw the event itself.  In holes in the coral, you could also see shrimp larva, waiting to become bait.  Below are photos I took of a hawksbill, a stingray, what we called martian crabs ("Spider Crabs" found on the ocean side), some shrimp larva in a hole at low tide in Turtle Cove, and another of Beckie's photos of dolphins.  The last is of a young sand shark at Shark's Cove.

Here's Steve Swayne's picture of a school of mullet in 1982:

Here is one of the species of Clownfish (Amphiprion chagosensis) that is ONLY found in the Chagos Islands.  If you've seen one while snorkeling, you are indeed lucky to have seen a unique and rare sight indeed!  Thanks to Kurt Rosenbaum for the picture.

One of the main uses for the sea creatures of DG was as squeeze toys.  The photos below, also from Beckie, are of what she calls Sea Turds, and I can't figure a better name (although they are most often called Sea Cucumbers).  They are the squishiest, slimiest things in the sea, and we used to eat them all the time in Korea.  But I just couldn't get anybody interested out there on Dodge, fortunately, because today the lagoon at DG is the only safe haven for these disgusting creatures!  Read all about the Sri Lankan Sea Cucumber Poachers who prowl the Chagos looking for giant snot rolls to eat!

The most popular uses of sea creatures was for picnics.
Here is the way many Diego Garcians remember the preparations!
Mmmmmm, tuna steaks 2" thick!

Also, it is a little known fact that Diego's own Tuna Hunter Lagoon was once the home to tens of thousands of "Tropical Beluga Whales".  Now, just a few are left, and confined for their own safety in the pool next to the outdoor theater downtown.  Only the dedicated efforts of Green Peace have brought these shy creatures back from the edge of extinction.  Unfortunately.

Special Bonus Article:  How to Poach Lobsters,
by "Commandante Uno" of the PPDRDG Liberation Army

  As we all know, lobsters abound in the waters around DG, but catching them is not permitted by the current ocuppying capitalist running dog powers.  So, we, the freedom fighters of the movement, had to be extremely careful whenever we were breaking the is, demanding our rights!  Here's how we did it.

     First, the best lobstering grounds are at the south end of the island, on the ocean side, down near T-Site and GEODSS.  The lobsters come up from the depths onto the reef at night to feed on all the flotsam and jetsome that floats around.  They travel from one place to another along little sand highways between the coral heads.  Just sort of walk along, sometimes several dozen wandering along, playing follow the leader.

    Now, in the glow of a flashlight, a crab's eyes glow silver, but a lobster's glow golden, just like tiny nuggets.  However, since the water over the reef was usually 6 or 8 feet deep, with the breakers coming in, it was normally not possible to witness this remarkable difference between competing crustacians.  But when there was no moon, and therefore a low tide, the water over the reef was only calf deep, and smooth, except for a gentle undertow.  It was then that the freedom fighters of the PPDRDG would go out onto the reef, shine our flashlights into the water along the little sand trails and see for ourselves the golden eye gleam.  It was perhaps 300 yards out to the edge of the reef, and there were plenty of those little sand highways all the way out.  You could get out within a dozen yards of the breakers which just pounded on the outer reef, and which would gently wash over your knees on the way in, and produce that gentle sucking undertow tug on the way back out.

    Sometimes, members of our glorious Liberation Army would be so enchanted with the golden eye effect while out there on that reef, that they would reach into the water and grab the lobster by the carapace and bring him up above the surface to see the effect more closely.  The lobsters would always bark at this removal from their notcturnal ramblings.  They would slap there tails against their bellies two or three times and bark just like a little chihuahua dog (also a favored food of Liberation Armies everywhere).  This would so amaze the person holding the lobster that the first time it happened to one, one usually dropped the lobster back into the water, and it would quickly swim away, backwards.  But after the first time, the barking was so remarkable, that the freedom fighter would often put the lobster in a string bag or old pillow case he might have with him, to take the lobster and any others he might find, back to the beach to show his comrades.

    The only problem with this was that sometimes, there might be a member of the oppresive overseer's police forces nearby, and the punishment for bring up even one small lobster to show one's friends would be fines of $500 U.S. and even time in a jail in Hong Kong or someplace equally crowded.  So, the revolutionary forces came up with special surveillance plans to prevent such an unfortunate discovery.

    First, we would liberate some FM hand-held portable radios from someplace where they might be left unattended.  Then, one of our mates would pull the unhappy duty of waiting by the Donkey Gate with one of the liberated radios.  Then another would be on the beach where the lobster-lookers were.  This radioman or woman would also have an air horn of the kind used for emergency signalling from a boat in distress, or to rattle the teeth of the people in the next row at a basketball game whenever your team would score a 3-pointer.  Should the Donkey Gateman or woman notice a vehicle heading for the southern tip of the island, they would relay the call to the Beachman or woman, who would give a long blast on the air horn, and the men or women hundreds of yards out on the reef would turn off their flashlights and wait, as motionless as possible, for the all clear (two long blasts of the air horn).

    Not every one of my comrades were comfortable with this arrangement.  In addition to lobsters in the knee deep water there were also many moray eels and sea snakes cruising the reef at night.  And the spiny star fish would be slithering all over too.  It was unnerving to some, but not to me of course, to have things constantly brushing against your ankles and poking hairy little tentacles down between your toes there in the dark.  And it was dark.  I mean, really really dark.  Dark as the pit.  Real dark.  Of course, that didn't ever bother me.

    And then, wouldn't you know it, the tide would start coming in, and the water would get to your knees and then to your thighs, and still no double blast on the horn because the idiot you left on the beach dropped it when he went to hide himself in the scaviola and then lost his flashlight too and even though the Brit police had driven away a half an hour before this bozo still can't let those of us on the reef know it because there's no moon and he can't find the airhorn and is afraid to feel around for it because he's heard that sea snakes crawl up on the beach at night even though they don't but he believes it and so is just standing there on the beach and its really really really dark and the water is getting deep enough to start that undertow tugging one foot or the other off the little coral head your standing on and then finally el stupido on the beach realizes he can honk the truck horn twice and that will work and the flashlights pop on immediately a couple hundred yards on either side of you and you count them and know no body has gotten sucked out to sea yet and you start walking back in to the beach and all the way you swear your going to personnally strangle the idiot who left you out there in the really really really black night surrounded by that really really really black water full of stingrays and lion fish and cone shells and those little bitty jellyfish the Aussies call sea wasps that will leave a welt for a week but you never even saw it because it was so fucking dark out there and finally you get to where there's no more water, and you pick your way across the coral up to the beach line and all of a sudden the rock you made your next step onto moves and its one of those really big sea turtles and it flops it flippers and looks at you with those big black eyes and heads on down the beach but not to lay eggs just to find a pool to stay wet in until the tide comes in and the tide in coming in and then you realize you've still got a dozen lobsters in your pillowcase and you decide you won't go back out into the surf to let them go and everyone else has a dozen or so and your lobsters aren't so interesting anymore in fact the golden eye effect doesn't work out the the water and you get kinda angry and decide you'll show those lobsters and you put them in the ice chest with the ice but first you get out that bottle of San Magoo beer and then a cigarette and take a long drag and a swish the beer around in your mouth before you swallow it and blow out the smoke through your nose and say to your comrades:  "Well, we cheated death again.  Whadda ya say we take these lobsters back to my room and boil them and eat them and drink somemore beer?"

    And this is what the we mean when we say the life of freedom fighter for the Provisional People's Democratic Republic of Diego Garcia is the best life there is.

    And that's the way you poach the Queen's Lobsters on Diego Garcia.  The End.

Commandante Uno
PPDRDG Liberation Army.

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