Friday, March 02, 2018

Making do

On a wide, flat beach, the tide races in and out, even as it creeps up more sloped shores. The current polishes rocks, re-shapes sand structures, digs holes behind stones. On sandy shores, mobile critters hurry to grab onto stones, scramble underneath seaweed, or burrow deep into the sand. On Boundary Bay, I have seen an incautious hermit crab, caught in the open as the water receded, swept off his feet and out to deeper water, rolling over and over helplessly.

On a hard sandstone base, the challenges are tougher. Where to hide? A scrap of broken stone, a clump of rockweed, maybe a ledge between sandstone plates. But the safe spots are few and far between. Life gets difficult.

On the sandstone flats last week, I was again looking for whelk shells for my growing hermits. In an hour of walking, I saw a half-dozen live whelks. But only two empty shells, both smashed and useless. (Or so I thought at the time.)

There were other snails, plenty of them, all tiny and tinier. Many of them turned out to be leftovers now being worn by tiny hermit crabs. I picked up a teaspoon-full to examine at home.

In a tide pool, I noticed a couple of larger hermits. And these demonstrated the difficulty of finding proper clothing in a whelk-shell desert; the shells they were wearing were all badly broken, some barely there. I took pity on several and brought them home.

In a tray at home. Grainy hand hermit in holey shell, and one of the tinies, also in a broken shell.

Hairy hermit in half a shell.

Another hairy hermit, in the tank now, on the prowl searching for a better shell.

At home, I looked them over, then added them to the aquarium. A few minutes later, one was wearing a new white shell. Several others were busy inspecting the assortment on offer. By evening, they were all properly dressed.

Amazing blue pincers on this grainy hand hermit! He's wearing one of the newer shells, but still wondering if another would fit better. In the end, he stayed with the first one.

The tiny hermits, some just bigger than a pinhead, are mostly black and white-legged ones, with a few of the tiny orange hermits. Many of them also needed new shells, but my tank is well stocked; they are all happily trundling about in their new outfits.

1 comment:

  1. I love the little stories about the creatures you pick up. It is almost like a Beatrix Potter story as they look for the best shell among their numerous choices.


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