Sad Life of a Mud Crab

Sad Life of a Mud Crab

mud-crab-coverGenerally speaking, it's no fun being a mud crab. I might be mistaken but it just seems to me that everything is trying to make a meal of us. I guess we're tasty, but I'm not sure, I never tried eating one of my kind.

I didn't ask to be born a mud crab, but you make the most of what you have and I’ve had a reasonably good life, until today.

The river here is brown and muddy from all the bauxite mining. The whole of Cape York in Northern Queensland is covered in bauxite a few meters thick. This stuff is the raw material for aluminum. The mining company scrapes off the top soil and flora, removes the bauxite in its natural form, and then returns the top soil and flora back to its native original appearance. The local people are Aborigines and have lived and hunted in this remote part of the world for thousands of years. Over the millennia, they have learned—through cruel necessity—to make the most of what nature sends their way. Sadly, today that was me.

One minute I was nonchalantly wandering down the riverbank looking for some breakfast. Maybe a small fish or if I was lucky a fat juicy shrimp—yes, they are the best. I would have settled for a rotten piece of dead fish or maybe a grasshopper blown from the stinking mangroves by the warm morning breeze. But today the only thing on the breakfast menu in my small stretch of the vast crocodile infested river was me.

I knew it was going to turn ugly when I saw the tall black shadow appear from nowhere at the riverbank. Maybe he was waiting for one of us to wander by; maybe he was just walking past looking for grubs of shellfish to feed himself and his family. Whatever it was that inspired fate to bring him to my exact spot will forever be a mystery. Perhaps it will be enshrined in another dreamtime story for a campfire not far from here. Sadly, I didn't see the crude, three-pronged spear flash from above the water line. There was a brief moment when I heard it enter the water, and I recall a strong, instinctive sense to escape as quickly as possible. But I was too slow. The prongs of the spear really hurt as they pierced my rock hard shell; I guess they were very sharp. The pain intensified as I was quickly dragged from my familiar watery world up and out into another world of air and heat and blinding sunlight.

There was a moment when I came face to face with my captor as he raised the end of the spear close to his dirt-smeared face to inspect his prize. He seemed pleased with me by the hungry look that glinted from his black weary eyes. A moment later the spear was lowered bringing me close to the steamy red dirt and in that instant, a pale-skinned tourist approached my human and me and uttered an unfamiliar noise, which caused my human to stop. He seemed to strike a pose and even smile at the contraption the other human now held in front of his eyes. For a split second, I thought that maybe they had agreed to release me back to the river so that I could be reunited with my brothers and sisters. But alas, there was no release, and the pale-skinned human just walked away, leaving me dying at the end of the spear. The brilliant light began to fade to grey as my eyes dimmed. I became very hot, and even though the pain had subsided in my back and stomach, I didn't feel well and knew that my time had come.