Juveniles of all species hold a special place in a critter hunter’s heart. We may pass over the adult versions of many creatures that we see regularly here in Lembeh but usually stop for a juvenile! Not only are juveniles smaller, so more rewarding to find, but they often look and behave differently from the adults.
Anemone Hermit Crab
We get plenty of hermit crabs here (which are not true crabs!) especially at nighttime and some of them can get grow quite large! The tiny pink speck pictured above caught Dan’s attention this week against the black sand backdrop and on closer inspection, it was a minuscule Anemone Hermit Crab (Dardanus pedunculatus). At such a small size it hasn’t yet found a shell of its own and if we have identified it correctly, decorate with its own protective anemones. The stinging anemones provide the anemone hermit crab with protection against would-be predators and when the time comes for a shell upgrade the anemones get upgraded with it!
Not all hermit crabs live in discarded shells. Sadly, some are found in man-made ‘shells’ and live in our discarded trash. Other species are more specialized and live in hidey-holes in hard corals for protection. For those shell dwelling hermits though the time will inevitably come for an upgrade when things get a bit too tight for comfort. When it comes across a likely shell it will try it on for size and if it’s too big it will return to its own shell and patiently wait for another hermit crab to come along. Hermit crabs will form an orderly queue next to a vacant shell in size order until everyone has a suitable upgrade and they can all move house together!
This is one reason why it’s important to not remove anything from the ocean. The shells that humans desire for decoration play an important role in the ecosystem long after their original owner has gone. All kinds of creatures rely on them – remember, take only pictures, leave only bubbles!
Are you interested in staying with us at Two Fish Lembeh Resort and critter hunting for tiny (and some not so tiny) critters in Lembeh’s black sand? Perhaps you prefer the white sand beaches and magical coral walls of the Bunaken surrounded by turtles? Perhaps you want a taste of both in one dive trip – we’re only three hours apart! Contact us below for information on our combination deals or for more information!