Scuba Diving with Hermit Crabs
If you night dive along the shore in most Caribbean areas, you are likely to encounter a hermit crab. Even during the daytime in shallow areas, you may see these amazing climbers crawling in tide pools and other shallow areas.
In the silence of a night dive, you might hear a crab "chirp" (the scientific name is "stridulation") where the crab rubs parts of its body together to make a noise. The chirp can also sound like cracking. When diving, you may swim over a hermit crab colony and hear the very audible cracking sounds en masse, which sounds a bit like cicadas in trees.
More About Hermit Crabs
These decapod crustaceans come in a multitude of sizes from dimes to something similar to the Florida Horse Conch
. The Hermit Crab is named for its scavenged shells from that of a mollusk and sometimes, ocean trash. A vegetarian filter feeder at heart, the hermit crab generates a water current by it's flagella of the exopods to filter out algae, small plants, and seaweed. (Or, in terms we non-scientific folk understand - the branching limbs with little hair-like appendages).
Hermit Crab Facts
- The hermit c
rab is often overlooked as a species of interest because they are fairly common.
- Crabs will outgrow their shells and move into other shells
- There are dry land and sea-dwelling hermit crabs
- Both varieties have gills for breathing
- Hermit crab races are a form of entertainment for some
- Their bodies are asymmetrical to allow a fit inside a conch shell
- Crabs "fight" merely to smell one another
- Artists make hand-blown glass shells for hermit crabs
- Those shells are available on Amazon
- Hermit crabs can live on average, 30 years and up to 70!
- The largest hermit crab grows about the size of a coconut
Now, go diving and look for Hermit Crabs. If you are lucky, you'll hear them and see them filter feeding. Sit and watch for a while and enjoy one of nature's often overlooked sea creatures.