Sunday, June 10, 2018

Going places

When the tide is low, and the sand is just right, not too wet, not too dry, not too packed down, not too loose, when the wind dies down and the sun hides behind clouds, you just might find hermit crab tracks.

Hermit crab trails, Willow Point beach

The hermit runs forward, instead of sideways like his cousins, the crabs. He leads with his big left pincer, then follows with the small right pincer and two larg(ish) legs on either side. Depending on the shell he's chosen, he either drags it behind, leaving a deep valley down the centre of his track, or carries it above ground level, so that his several rows of footprints aren't erased.

In the photo above, the smaller hermit, who left his trail top to bottom more or less down the centre line, was carrying a draggy shell, probably one of the long, pointy Asian mud snail shells. A larger hermit carrying his shell high, barely touching the sand, crossed right to left, corner to corner.

More trails. These hermits mostly travel in straight lines, not like the mud snails that wander all around, often crossing their own path several times. The hermits know where they're going; probably looking for shelter, now that the tide has abandoned them.


  1. Are the snails you mentioned foraging? I imagine that would lead to circuitous paths.

    1. Yes, snails seem to always be eating while they're on the move. I don't know if they ever just "go somewhere".

  2. There were so many interesting tracks and things to see over at Long Beach. Did you see my Velella Velella pictures? - Margy


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