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Chapter 10 "Searching For Ocho"

Off they went out deeper to the limestone areas that were filled with pitted holes and crevices. A real place to hang out if you’re a stone crab and, soon, Stoney was asking around for the last known whereabouts of Ocho. Many feared him as he regularly dines on Stone crabs but not Stoney. Seems a few years back while he was cruising the trap line, busting the sides out and snacking on shark skins, he saw Ocho inside one of the traps and he was collecting bones and scraps of coral and making a regular toy box out of this trap, as if it was his new home.

“Better get outta there,” Stoney said as he peered into the dark box between the plastic slats, “Soon the commercial fishermen who own this new home you are in will pull this trap into their noisy boat topside and you will not be released. Instead, you will be imprisoned and sold for cobia bait. All my friends tell me this is what happens to Octopus who are taken by the Stone Crab fishermen.”

No sooner had he said this and the rope that was attached to Ochos new home stiffened then began to pull the trap topside in a tornado of stirred up marl and grass. Ocho easily slid out through the entrance and spread out on the grass in front of Stoney eyeing him.

“Hmmmm,” Ocho said, “in exchange for this valuable information I choose to not eat you. In fact, I will instead offer my services to you for our lifetime collectively of course.

Stoney said, “What does that mean anyway?”

“What it means is that we were both very lucky today. You see, I am one of the smartest creatures in the sea and have an unusual ability to reason much unlike many other creatures that cannot. I will be there for you should you ever need my services in the field of intelligence,” Ocho explained.

There was a rush of current and a mass of dark inky substance that blurred Stoney’s vision for a second and Ocho was gone.

“That is how I met Ocho,” Stoney said. “I never did figure he was that smart as he was in a crab trap and thought it was his new home, but who am I to judge?”

Super Snook asked, “How are we going to find Ocho?”

He reminded Stoney that Ocho could be anywhere. Stoney quipped, ”Not true ole Super friend, he will be where the grub is. Not many creatures are too far away from their food source and we both know this as true?”

He was already close to what Octopus’ like, so they continued along with their secret document inside the crusher claw of Stoney, while the other claw was securely latched on the SS dorsal fin. Off they went with Stoney sending out small clicks by grinding his jaw plates together in some sort of Morse code cadence. Soon there were clicks coming back from beneath and Stoney processed them into a general revelation that Ocho was near.

“STOP!” Stoney exclaimed.

Super Snook turned on a dime and came to a stop while Stoney pondered a bit then slowly waved his crusher claw and softly said, ”Over there..”

Sure enough, there was Ocho crab walking across a small reef like a colorful Indian throw rug. Glistening as waves of iridescent colors shot through his body while his 8 sucker-encrusted legs probed the nooks and crannies of the reef below him. He was hunting as usual and was distracted by his efforts and did not see Stoney and Super Snook approaching.

“Hey,YO! YO, OCHO! It’s me, Stoney!” Stoney yelled. “I have a favor to ask of you.. Can you help?”

Ocho seemingly a bit annoyed at his this disturbance said, “Yes, of course, come closer.”

Cautiously the pair approached the octopus and Stoney jumped off Super Snooks back and shuffled over the Octopus with the piece of paper they found where Super Snook had been ensnared by the gill net along the beach the night before.

Ocho took one look at the paper and touted, “This is a boat registration paper and also a series of GPS numbers for something known as a set. I believe a set is a term used by commercial fishermen who use gill nets. It shows the location of each set and also shows how long each set is. Where did you find this?”

Super Snook knew immediately what had to be done, now that Ocho had declassified this paper .

”Come on, Stoney, we got some work to do. Thank you Ocho!”

Super Snook swept in and with a rush took Stoney by the crusher claw and sped off into the blue green waters, headed north to where his life had been threatened by the gill net.

“I know someone who will want that piece of paper, Stoney,” Super Snook said as he was hauling tail into the tide, and was headed back to the area where the invisible nets had almost ended his life.

“A guy by the name of Warden Jordan will want to know about these ‘sets’ and will need this information. I know where he lives,” Super Snook exclaimed.

As they pair approached the area where they knew the nets were located, SS slowed to idle speed and was searching for something along the beach. Occasionally he lifted his head out of the water and then resurfaced a time or two and was looking for a really large oak tree that was onshore. Warden Jordan used this particular tree as a look out to watch a long stretch of beach for violators. He saw Warden Jordan in it several times with his binoculars in the daytime and even saw him there a few nights using a device that allowed him to see into the dark called a “night scope.” He was not there but Super Snook had an additional plan as well and headed north a bit more. He came to a small opening in the beach and checked the tide and ran full speed up onto the bank and flip splashed into the smallish creek and headed up creek.

“Hey Super Snook! Slow down clown! I cannot take brackish water like you can, so I got to drop off here! I will wait at the creek mouth for you to return. Here is the paper..” Stoney said.

Stoney took off in one direction and SS in the other. Super Snook reached a sharp turn in the creek and picked off a few clueless pinfish as they rushed about panicked by the approach of this monster snook. He needed a snack and pinfish were always around and were usually clueless and easy game.

He, now, saw where Warden Jordan lived and approached the makeshift dock looking for him. He was sitting there under a small oak tree, feet up in a hammock and asleep. He had a series of maps and charts scattered about and his glasses were in the middle of them. He had spilled a small area of iced tea on the map, and had, obviously, fallen asleep in this awkward looking position. His work boots were lying close to the waters edge and this gave Super Snook an idea. He took the paper and slid up out of the water and placed the folded up paper inside one of the boots and quietly slid back into the water. He turned around and with one cupped flick of that 14 inch wide tail sent a column of cool brackish water straight for Warden Jordan’s resting head and he was gone like a freight train.