Crab Art

Several times while in Borneo I was gobsmacked by this delicate graffiti decorating the beach. Having not seen it happen in person, I have no idea how these little works of art are created other than assuming they’re a byproduct of a sand crab’s daily rituals. This one caught my eye for its composition, balance, resemblance of a plant or a country on the map. Such beauty! I couldn’t have sketched or formed anything more perfect — and definitely not at this size (it was no more than a square foot). These constellations were everywhere, varying in size based on the size of the crab (again, I’m assuming) from infinitesimal piles of sand balls to much larger organically-shaped pointillistic masterpieces with incredible order and repetition. Do they do this in search of food? Do they emerge at sunrise and start rolling the balls, kind of like “Time to make the doughnuts.”? Or could it be meditative like creating a Japanese rock garden? I’m sure there’s a simple scientific explanation but I’d kind of just like to keep marveling and wondering instead.

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