The Hermit Crabs we find. — March 2016

 

Red Hermit Crab

                                       Red Hermit Crab

It’s hard not to be curious when you notice a sea shell moving about, with legs and feelers protruding.

While other crustaceans scamper, bury, and hide; not hermit crabs—they are slowly dragging their appropriated spiral shell houses along—which makes them easy to get to know.

To be able to grow they need to change shells to bigger and better regularly. It’s their habit of trading or even stealing shells from other hermits and their gregarious nature that is so fascinating.

red hermit crabs willis islets 0364

                Squabbling...possibly little shell wants to upgrade to the others bigger shell!

There’s about 500 hermit crab species world wide and many live for over 20 years. In Australia you are most likely to meet the two land based varieties: the pale brown “Aussie crab” found along the far north coastline, or the “Red Hermit crab” which is abundant on coral cays on the GBR and Coral sea.

Aussie Hermit Crab leaves home. Found this little fellow at the very interesting Crab Island ,NW top of the cape.

         Aussie Hermit Crab leaves home... found at Crab Island, NW tip of the cape.

Under the water, it’s a similar story. Small snails would seem to be slowly walking across the bottom, but it’s the intertidal species of Hermits, usually the hairy legged varieties that you are seeing.

Hairy-legged Hermit Crab found during a night dive at 8m depth.

                           Hairy-legged Hermit Crab found during a night dive at 8m depth.

During night dives we often notice these shy Coral Hermit Crabs.

            During night dives we often notice these tiny Coral Hermit Crabs sticking their heads out of  hard coral.

Like their land based cousins they have a soft abdomen that is coiled in the same direction as a typical snail shell. Usually found in tidal pools but have been seen as deep as 100m. They are often close to gastropods, whose shells they use. Their enemies include seabirds, fish, octopus and other crabs.

For the naturalist’s within, their plodding nature makes them a wonderful target to study.

*For more information on land Hermit Crabs click here for a comprehensive web site by Tony  Coenobita.

Tony is a very knowledgeable enthusiast and loves to chat about this topic.

The Red Hermit Crabs are prolific on the Cays in the Coral Sea. Pictured here at Nth Willis Cay.

                   The Red Hermit Crabs are prolific on the Cays in the Coral Sea. Pictured here at Nth Willis Cay.            

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Its fasinating watching their socializing antics: effection, arguing , aggression or just chatting in their own way.

       Its fasinating watching their socializing antics: effection, arguing , aggression or just chatting in their own way.

 

 

 

this what the beach at the Esat Diamond islet In the Coral Sea looks like after dark.

                    This is what the beach at the East Diamond islet In the Coral Sea looks like after dark.

 

Mini Hermit Crab found at Yanke reef GBR

Mini Hermit Crab found at Yanke reef GBR

the unusual Turban Shell... a favourite shell for hermit Crabs

   The unusual eye ball Turban Shell... a favourite home for Hermit Crabs

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3 Comments

  1. rob on April 2, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Wow, that’s interesting.

  2. Tony on April 9, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Amazing!!!

    Hope one day I will go there to look at the land hermit crab.

    • Robin Jeffries on April 9, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Hi, Tony. Yep, it is extraordinary watching hundreds of them interacting around us when we are in remote areas. Nature is amazing. Stay in touch 😉
      Cheers Robin

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