The southern end of Rawai Beach, away from the parasols and deckchairs, offers little for sun worshipers but much for those who seek out creatures for imbibing or investigation. A beach of coarse gravel and fast-running crabs gives away to a cove of large rocks and firm mud. There are isolated sandbanks where battalions of soldier crabs feed with the frenzy of sinking rats. Further afield, there are signs of seagrass beds in the fragments of leaf straps that float towards the shore.
The lowering tideline reveals a shoal of Acropora, the table corals that form the foundation of many reefs in this region. The branching colonies here are small in this exposed zone, but there are likely to be table-top columns in depths my duck deigns not to tread. While Joe pokes around for crabs, she pointed me to a lady making rounds on the reef. She had inserted thin skewers in holes and crevices around the flat and to these spots she returns to check for signs of interest. Impaled crabmeat on the sticks draws the tentacles of octopi who find the bait too precious a prize. They pay the price of indiscretion as she lifts the skewer to bag a sucker of a meal.