Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crab

They are certainly an ungainly looking creature, even to look at, as in this photo. In motion though, its ungainliness is only magnified. Their shell is a hand-me-down, originally from a mollusk. They are land crabs that live most of their lives on the land. Once a year though, in a mass migration they journey down to the sea to spawn. Here is a video that depicts the Hermit Crab Migration at Honeymoon beach, St. John Island. It was created by Steve Simonson. We hiked to Honeymoon beach from Cruz Bay and then back again, passing through the area depicted in the movie. We saw Hermit crabs going both ways along the trail, even though the trail was hundreds of feet above sea level. 

Hermit crabs are normally solitary creatures and except for mating, their only other social interaction occurs during the exchanging of shells. As Hermit crabs grows in size, they must find larger shells and abandon their old one. The crabs will form a vacancy chain to exchange shells. If a crab finds an empty shell, it will try it on for size. If it fits, fine, but if not, the crab will go back to its old shell and wait for other crabs to arrive. New crabs will also try on the empty shell. A group is formed that holds onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving to the next size up. 

On our last day on St. John, we kayaked Hurricane Hole. At lunch, we stopped on a gravel beach, Our guide laid out the spread upon the rocks. No sooner was the food out then a bunch of Hermit crabs arrived to check it out. I took note of them and they scurried away, but after we left, I’m sure they were back again.

We returned home from the Virgin Islands late on Friday night. On Saturday and especially Sunday, the weather was relatively warm and pleasant. Not like we had become accustomed to, but nice for February in Saint Louis and we got a couple of nice walks in. The sunny and warm weather helped to ease our transition back here. Today though dawned, if you could call it that, both cold and rainy and not even a sign of the water company today, because of the wet weather. It is supposed to be cold and wet all week.

The restaurant where we ate our last dinner on the island was selling t-shirts that mocked the mainland’s winter weather. It featured a fake weather map of the lower forty-eight. It also featured the four-letter word, sh!tty. In Saint Louis, the t-shirt labeled our weather always sh!tty, as opposed to Canada, which is sh!tty, eh or Boston, wicked sh!tty, Northern California, foggy and sh!tty and Seattle, rainy and sh!tty. You get the idea, like any place other than the Virgin Islands.

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