|A medium-size grainy hand hermit, Pagurus granosimanus.|
These hermits like a shell 'way too big for them. It seems impractical; all that weight and bulk to haul up the blades of eelgrass, but they persist. They don't seem to mind a tumble or three.
Look inside the shell; his small fourth leg, the one he uses to hold the shell in place, is visible.
|Orange lined anemone, Haliplanella lineata, on vegetarian snail.|
I brought this anemone home on a small stone. Within hours, it had packed up and left. I found it a few days later on the back of the big abalone shell, and a day later, inside the lip. A few days later, after more moves, it met this snail. The snail travels around the walls, down into the sand, up a wall again, eating algae. And the anemone, finally, is content to stay put and let the snail do the chauffering.
|Stubby isopod, Gnorimosphaeroma oregonensis*, on a blade of eelgrass|
A bunch of these, at least 30, came home on the eelgrass I brought for the hermits. Most of them are very tiny, barely little specks that alternately swim and crawl. When I try to capture one, it rolls up into a tight ball, like a pillbug does. This is one of the larger ones.
*His name is bigger than he is.
|Val, growing bigger every day. Last I measured, her tentacles were 4 cm. long.|
And she's another wanderer, more of a homebody than the snail rider, but never content to stay in the same corner for too long. Now she's at the far back of the aquarium, making me almost stand on my head to get a good look at her.
|Barnacles and snails|
Not even the barnacles stay put around here. Sure, they're glued firmly to their base, but in this case, the base is the empty shell of a larger barnacle, and it rolls about as the snails and hermits walk over it or the current takes it. On the beach, they wouldn't survive; they'd be tossed up on shore to dry, or eaten by a passing fish. In the aquarium the only thing they need to fear is Val, and the pump is set so that the current sweeps them away from her.