Thursday, June 02, 2016

Name this hermit

Many of the beaches on the Campbell River coastline have a base of sandstone, with rocks and stones and glacial erratics scattered or piled on top. Lifting the rocks sometimes uncovers a hard, smooth, pavement-like surface. Crabs and small fish hide in the crevices in the sandstone; anemones drill small holes. But the rest of the beach fauna heads for softer spots, larger cracks, where they can burrow in comfort.

I removed a few rocks and scraped at the sandstone until I found a crack, then dug down. Not far; an inch or two, and I'd hit pavement again. I found three tiny clams and disturbed a swimmer, probably an isopod. Nothing more, except the snails, crabs, and hermits that don't mind hard floors.

When the water had cleared a bit, I took a few photos, hoping to find something too small to see there on the beach. But the camera found no worms, no soft critters, no sea urchins. Just one tiny hermit crab.

A hermit that I haven't been able to identify.

Hermit, as found. I've cleaned up the background a bit; the water was still full of debris. And I deleted garbage floating over the shell. But the hermit is untouched, except for lighting.

This hermit was in a shell about 1/4 inch long. He has greenish banded antennae, red/brown eye stalks, with a white vertical stripe, red "flags" with a white base. His pincers are dark, with whitish stripes. I think the white stripes on either side of his head are on his "shoulders". And the eyes seem to be patterned in a spiral or a double circle.

I've spent the evening searching for a match. The little greenmark hermit, often seen on these beaches, has red, unbanded antennae; the hairy has those green antennae, but he's a dull brown or green everywhere else, except for blue spots on his knees.  I've looked at every one in the BC E-Fauna gallery and read descriptions; none are like this guy.

Compare to a couple of typical small hermits from my tank:

A young hairy hermit, Pagurus hirsutiusculus. As he grows older (and much bigger than the hermit above), his colours will darken to olive green or dark brown. If he eats too much red algae, he might take on a pinkish glow. Never red. The eyes are oval, with a dark centre.  His "flags" (sensory antennules) have a hint of orange and blue at the tip. He does have the green or brown banded antennae.

These I've never been able to identify reliably. Pale, banded antennae, orange and white legs. A very small hermit. They may darken to black and white. Not red.

Does anyone recognize this? Is he just another colour morph of the hairy hermit, maybe?


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