“Life Lessons Learned from a Fiddler Crab, and a Red Drum” by Ty Curtis

Oh, just to be able to kick back and watch the fiddler crabs in the pluff mud of the South Carolina salt marsh. What a sight! Well, that is exactly what I do sometimes when I am off work. I drive down to Winyah Bay, and walk down my parent’s long wooden dock that leads to a small barrier island. I call this tiny island Little Momma’s Island because that is what my Mom used to be called by her grandchildren.

Down on the tiny island the only sound to be heard is that of the small waves of the bay washing up against the sand. If you take a closer look you can see thousands of small brown crabs called “fiddlers,” moving about the muddy sand, foraging for food. Fiddler crabs are very interesting little creatures. The males have one large claw and one much smaller claw. The female fiddlers have two small claws. The fiddlers don’t really have too much to worry about, that is until the high tide rolls in. It is then that the island becomes covered with water, and the red drums move in. Red drums are also known spot-tail bass, and they love to feast on just about any type of crab that can be found in the bay. The fiddler crabs have one hope against this swift predator; dig a deep mud hole and dive in it. The red drums, however, don’t mind digging to get to their meals. As a matter of fact you can see them sometimes with their tails waving out of the water trying to lunge their bodies vertically down into the mud to get to the fiddlers. If the fiddler has dug his home deeply enough he will live to see another day. Once the tide recedes, and the island is above the water again, all the fiddler crabs return to surface of the pluff mud, and begin going about their ways of finding food in the marsh. It is an ancient cycle that has existed between the red drum and the fiddlers; One that has been around before the days of man.

It was the simplicity of this little creature’s life that led me to write a song called “Mr. Fiddler.” This is one of the songs on my children’s music album called Sea Animal Adventures. This particular song has a Calypso style, similar to what you might hear on a Jimmy Buffet album. The topic lends itself well to personalized children’s music because children are naturally fascinated by sea animals. My daughter, Emily, had a great deal of fun doing the background vocals for this song. It reminded her of the days strolling on the old dock, leading down Little Momma’s Island, to the place where the fiddler crabs play.

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