Text crustacea by sofiaie


									Shrimp and crabs species eaten by the Kamoro

Along with fish, several crustacean species contribute mightily to the Kamoros’ cash income. While
crabs and shrimp have been a part of their diet from well before recorded history, Freeport personnel
and the population influx into the Timika area have created a high degree of demand for these
universally appreciated creatures. While it will a cold day in hell before outsiders acquire a taste for
tambelo or sago grubs, even finicky American wives relish fresh local shrimp (when they can get
them: seldom) or, if someone cracks open the shells, the famous mangrove crabs. But well off
Indonesians usually snap up the crustaceans well before they reach the expats plates. Marketing the
beasts in Tembagapura and Kuala Kencana is non-existent and most expat ladies are adverse to
taking the high adventure of shopping in the Timika market: dirt, smells, stares and language
problems are insurmountable barriers. This is perhaps just as well since there might well be over-
exploitation by the Kamoro of the targeted species. An even greater threat comes from the many
shrimp boats operating out of Sorong and elsewhere, using bottom drag lines and operating much
closer to shore than the legal limit of three kilometers. Less than a decade ago, the prawn fishing in
Bintuni Bay was valued at $35 million, but the destruction of large mangrove areas for a big wood-
chip operation led to a drastic reduction in shrimp catches. So the boats now operate off the Kamoro

A bit of background and fun facts
Crustaceans are the most versatile animals of the mangroves, occupying virtually all micro-habitats
in this ecosystem. The fantastic daily biomass production of the mangroves, mostly in the form of
leaves, enters the food chain through a group of crabs called Sesarmids which consume some 30 per
cent of the mangrove litter, including about 75 per cent of the propagules. (Lots of bacteria,
amphopods and polychaetes consume most of the rest.) The crabs pull the leaves and mangrove
propagules into their burrows for leisurely, undisturbed consumption. The Sesarmids belong to the
Grapsidae family whose best known (and, to their loss, the most delicious) denizens in our area are
of the genus Scylla. These swimming crabs make long migrations liked to their reproductive cycle,
with the female making journeys of up to 30 kilometers into the open sea while loaded with newly-
laid eggs attached to her abdomen. She returns home to daddy, who has been minding the mangrove
homestead, after the eggs have hatched. (Well, OK, pace scientists, real life is not quite so romantic:
she just returns to the mangrove area; like most animals, our Scylla lose interest in each other after
mating.) As the Kamoro ladies who gather these crabs for sale, the tough-pincered beasts live in
burrows and tidal pools among the roots of the mangrove trees.

The mud lobster, Thalassina anomala, has the good fortune to be adapted by evolution to eat mud,
and taste just like what it eats. This way, humans leave it alone to perform its essential task in life:
digging deep burrows (U-shaped tunnels, up to two meters deep) which allows for drainage and
oxidation of the deeper areas of mangrove sediments. Not that these animals do this for altruistic
reasons: their mud diet contains organic particles on which they survive. But they have to eat lots of
mud to obtain sufficient nourishment. Their habitat is dotted with distinctive mounds topping the
burrows. Aside from the generally beneficent task of soil aeration, these crabs’ ‘ploughing ‘activities
increase the growth rate of trees, especially of the mangrove genera Bruguiera and Ceriops as well
as the Nypa palm.

Another bunch of crabs, called ocypods (sometimes called ghost or running crabs) usually keep to
the muddy intertidal areas but occasionally venture for adventure further into the mangroves. The
best known genus of the group are the fiddler crabs, of the genus Uca. Males waste a lot of time
displaying their one oversized (for their size) claw, fighting only very occasionally. One of the more
fun spectacles in Kamoroland consists of watching large male colonies of males, waving their claws
at each other near their burrows, making a quick dash for it when a bigger fellow approaches. The
aggressive behavior changes at mating times into intricate courtship dances.
These little water-dependent crabs can survive for hours in a dry environment thanks to reservoirs of
water carried in special body pouches. Their plumbing system, which recycles this water enriched
with atmospheric oxygen, pumps the life-sustaining fluid to the gills, keeping the animals happy and
active in the sun and air until the next tide. They are the most active both day and night at low tides.
Species are separated into distinct zones.

The commercial shrimp species, the penaeids living in the mangroves, belong mostly to the genus
Penaeus. The large, sought-after banana prawn (P. merguiensis) is the most closely associated with
the mangroves where it feeds on the particularly rich zooplankton: their nursery and feeding
grounds. Mating and egg-laying takes place in coastal waters (whence to shrimp boats off the
Kamoro coast) with the post larval shrimp hightailing it to the (relative) safety of the mangroves. At
sexual maturity, it’s time for the open sea again. In contrast, the other main commercial species in
the Kamoro habitat, the genus Macrobranchium (mostly M. rosenbergi), the giant freshwater prawn,
also migrate out of the mangroves when ready for sex, but head upstream to reach their love-nests.
These huge prawns change from a yellow-brown to black when full-sized, but taste delicious
regardless of color. Worth a lot of money, this species, along with the Scylla crabs, is in danger of
over-exploitation in our area.

Kamoro area crustaceans
Our sources were informants from the villages of Kekwa and Atuka on the coast and Pigapu and
Iwaka inland. For these crustaceans, our only reference: A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian
Waters, by Diana Jones and Gary Morgan, Reed and Western Australian Museum, 1994. The
overlap with Australia is not all that great, but the book was helpful. Of course, to supplement the
bookworm information, we did our own field work, happily eating away, after, of course, identifying
the menu. Photo id’s were done by the portsite environmental lab.
Additions and corrections for crustacea by Kent Hortle.

1. Crabs.
Note: the Kamoro names are from the coastal villages of Atuka and Kekwa; the names in the
Nawaripi dialect are preceded by an N.
The species found most often at or beyond the mangrove zone is the mud or mangrove lobster,
Thalassina squamifera, not eaten due to its muddy taste. This is true in other areas as well. It is
The crabs eaten include the xanthid Macromedaeus demani, called MINAKO (N= MIYANAO,
(often eaten by the Kamoro but not a commercial species), and the freshwater crab Holthuisana
transversa, AIRAKOPIA (N=AIRAOPEA, used as bait).

At the mangrove and beach zone, they often find a grapsid, probably Leptograpsus sp.
ATAMEHAE; N= ATAMEFE, used as bait. (There are 30 grapsid species in this area, mostly small
ones used as bait.)
They also eat, or use for bait a grapsid, Parasesarma sp,, called EPORO, (N: EPORO TEPATIA)
which is found in the mangroves and at or near the beach.
Among the many unidentified grapsids we have N: TIRIEPORO
Note: both the leaf crab, Dorippe sp. (a species new to science, according to our environmental lab,)
called EPORO (N: EPORO), is used as bait.

The best tasting, and fetching some Rp. 10 -15,000 for a fair-sized specimen at the Timika market,
we have the mangrove crab, probably Scylla olivaceous and the very similar S. serrata, both
TATARO. N = PEA AURAFO (the green version) and PEA WAITIMIRAO for the dark, almost
black one.
Other near-shore crabs include the commercially valuable Blue Manna (also called Blue Swimmer
or Sand Crab), Portunus pelagicus, OKOMARO (or) OKOMAINI, N: PEA AOMAUNI
Two other beach species include the PEAKAURAHO and the

In addition, the Nawaripi-speaking people of Paopao identified the following crabs from the book:
Thalamita cranata, TATARO (there are many of this type, all used for bait); Chaceon bicolor,
EPORO or MEFEPAYAO; Pilumnus longicornis, PAWEPORO; Grapsus tenuicrustatus,
APEREPORO; Sesarma sp. EPORO POWA; Myctyris longicarpus, EPORO MUTATIA; Ocypode
ceratophthalma, EPORO TIRITIA; Uca coarctata, TAPARO EPORO.

2. Shrimp.
The most important species for home consumption or for sale include the long-armed prawns, udang
kali, Macrobranchium mamillodactylus, MBITI, N: ME’O, and the black (very large adults or hefty-
sized yellowish M. rosenbergi, (M)BE, N: ME POAWA
Add to this the giant or jumbo tiger prawn (also known as the leader or panda prawn), a basic black
with white blotches all over, Penaenus monodon, BEPANI, N: ME MIMAPERETIA
We also have the banana prawn, Penaenus merguiensis, KAUWANI (also: NEPANI or BEPANI),
N: ME AWAUNI, and the much smaller Caridina sp. called WAUTETE.
Another of shrimp, called udang batu (identified only in Indonesian by the Kamoro), Cherax lorenzi.
In Iwaka, this shrimp was named WAMERO and from the illustrations in the book, this was said,
erroneously according to Kent Hortle, to be either Cherax destructor or C. quadricarinatus. In
Indonesian, they gave the name as udang batu or udang tanah.
Atyidae went under the general name of NITI
The snapping shrimp Alpheus andouni, MENAUNI, are said by the Kamoro to be used for bait.
In addition, the Nawaripi-speaking people of Paopao identified the following from the book:
Altosquilla sp. MIFUTEFETIA (bait), Birubius sp. MIFU (too small for bait), Armadillidium
vulgare, MIFUERA (called kapok or cotton in the gills...), Ligia autraliensis, ATIA, seen in fish;

Bopyridae, TONOE PORONA, used as bait, Alpheus lottini, TAWAME, used as bait; Alpheus
strenuus, MEAWAUNI; Cherax quadricarinatus, MEMAPTITIA, eaten; Calcinus elegans,
TONUNA, used as bait.

Crustacea list from Atuka:
IRANE: Macromedaeus demani
MINAKO: Holothuisana transversa
DEPO: Leptograpsus variegatus
BEPANI: Penaenus monodon - jumbo or giant tiger prawn
URUMOKO: Penaenus merguiensis - banana prawn
UROKO: Macrobrachium mamillodactylus - udang putih
WAMERO: Cherax lorentzi - udang batu, Lorentz yabby
MBE: Macrobrachium rosenbergi - udang hitam, udang kali
ATAPORO: a grapsid....
OKAMAUNI: Portunus pelagicus
ATAPAJAKOTA: Dorippe sp. leaf crab
TIRI: Thalassina squamifera - mud lobster
EPORO: Parasesarma sp. (a grapsid)
PEA WAITUOKO: Scylla olivacea, mangrove crab
PEA: Scylla serrata (black)
PEA TATARE ???? this one is the biggest, with yellow spots or dots...

In Atuka, Domi buys some of the larger crab and shrimp species:
UROKO: Macrobrachium mammilodactylus, udang putih Rp. 7,500/kg
MBE: M. rosenbergi (udang hitam, udang kali); Rp. 8,000/kg
PEA: Scylla serrata (black) Rp. 1-2,000
PEA WAITUOKO: S. olivacea (big, green),
(PEA)TATARE ????? the biggest, with yellow dots... Rp. 5,000
Also: crabs and shrimp from Tikwaka (Timika Pantai) and from
       Aikawapuka villages


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