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Old 12/20/2013, 02:35 PM   #28
Gonodactylus
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA, USA
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G. falcatus was introduced into Oahu in the early 1950"s. The population exploded when they got into Kaneohe Bay probably due to the abundant rubble created when the reefs were killed by the construction of the Naval Air Station. I know that G. falcatus made it to Maui by the 80"s and I think they got to the big island a bit later.

If you dive for Odontodactylus brevirostris and find a burrow, check to see if it is occupied by inserting a piece of wire. I carry a foot long piece of coat hanger. If some one is home, you can feel the strike. If the burrow is empty, check around the immediate area. They often build two or three burrows about a meter apart and use all of them. If an animal gets away during a capture attempt, check the adjacent burrows. They often escape by making a beeline for another burrow.

Sometimes the animals will be in a blind burrow or one that is so cemented into the substrate that you can't push a finger through. When that happens, I put the net over the entrance and stick the wire probe through the net and into the burrow. By gently wiggling the wire as far into the burrow as possible, you can often harass the occupant until it bails and flees into the net.

Echinosquilla occurs on the Big Island and catching one would be a real prize. They are crepuscular and are not active during the day. However, if you can make a dive at dusk or dawn, they are easy to spot because the eyes are reflective (green). Scan the slope with your light and you should be able to pick up their eyes. You can then mark the burrow (they almost never come out) and go back later during the day to catch them. They often live in large tube worm burrows and can be a bear to get them out. I usually look for animals living it cavities in large pieces of coral rubble and take the whole piece to the surface to break up. An alternative is to squirt in a solution of clove oil. Sometimes that works. Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.

Several times I've tried to teach commercial collectors how to catch Echinosquilla hoping that they could supply me with some, but so far no luck
Roy


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