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Posts Tagged ‘tide pool etiquette’

Hermit Crab: A Different Kind of Beachcomber!

Posted by Jody on February 4, 2014

Whether you’ve been tidepooling, beachcombing or have simply enjoyed a leisurely stroll on the sand, you have probably come upon a hermit crab or two! Hermit crabs are abundant in tidepools and along the seashore. They can be found living in abandoned marine snail (gastropod) shells and, less commonly, in other hollow objects (e.g., coral, rock or wood).

Look closely! Do you see the legs of the hermit crabs scooting around in this LaJolla tidepool?

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Cool, huh?

Animal Planet states, “Unlike true crabs, hermit crabs have soft, vulnerable abdomens. For protection from predators, many hermit crabs seek out abandoned shells, usually snail shells. When a hermit crab finds one of the proper size, it pulls itself inside, leaving several legs and its head outside the shell. (A hermit crab has five pairs of legs, but not all of them are fully developed.) A hermit crab carries the shell wherever it goes. When it outgrows its shell, it switches to a larger one. Most adult hermit crabs are from 1/2 inch (13 mm) to 4 3/4 inches (121 mm) long. Living on the seashore, in tidepools, and on the sea bottom in deeper water, hermit crabs scavenge their food.”

Liam's find is a hermit crab's home!

Liam’s find is a hermit crab’s home!

According to a Marine Parks Western Australia webpage, the biggest threat to hermit crabs is people!

1) While beach goers are often searching for the most beautiful seashells to carry home, they might also accidentally collect the little shore critters who have carefully selected the same shells as their beachfront condos! One hermit crab’s home, in turn, unintentionally becomes a beachcomber’s “beach treasure.”  Hermit crabs are amazingly good at hiding inside their shells to protect themselves from discovery. Before we put those seashells in our brightly colored plastic pails, we really should inspect each shell very carefully for signs of a resident hermit crab.  When our 5 year old grandson, Liam, found an absolutely gorgeous moon snail shell on a beach near Galveston Island, TX, we didn’t see a little hermit crab inside. Then we did. Then we didn’t!! Hermit crabs are very clever and quite skillful at stealing themselves away in their homes.

2) It’s no surprise that the prized larger seashells are favored by shell collectors. This sometimes leaves slim pickings for growing, house hunting hermit crabs. *This is one very practical reason that beaches sometimes have collection limits for unoccupied seashells of 1 gallon, 5 gallons, etc. per person.*

3) Other hermit crabs are taken home deliberately to become pets. *It’s important to remember that live collection of  shore life is prohibited on many beaches!* Marine Parks WA reminds us: “Hermit crabs make popular pets, but you should never ever take one from the wild. They should remain in its natural habitat to form an important part of the marine food chain and, if removed, are likely to die within days in any case.”

Alaskan Hermit Crab (Photo: Jan Haaga, PD-USGov-NOAA)

Related beachcombing posts: Tidepool Etiquette 101

Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Beachcombers Beware ~ Regulation Variation at National Seashores

Happy beachcombing to you and to our little ten-legged seashore friends!


Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Tide Pool Etiquette 101

Posted by Jody on October 26, 2011

Tidepooling is one of our favorite seaside activities! Tide pools are usually quite rocky areas, filled with sea water, that are very much exposed at low tide. In fact, at low tide they are often separated from the ocean entirely. It’s so much fun to peek around in tide pools, mostly because you never know what you’ll find from day-to-day and from tide pool to tide pool.  You may be lucky enough to see colorful sea stars, sea urchins, sea anemones, turban snails, barnacles and shore crabs, all in one trip! Of course, you’ll want to check the local tide tables in order to catch a low tide for the best tidepooling experience.

Beautiful Tide Pool Sea Anemones

It’s very important to remember that tidepooling, like shelling, has “rules of good conduct.”  Here’s a short list of rules tidepoolers should keep in mind for the careful and respectful exploration of these fascinating oceanfront communities.

Tide Pool Etiquette

1) Never remove any shells, rocks, plants or animals from tide pools. (This principle goes for both living and non-living items.)

2) Please don’t poke or prod the tide pool creatures. (No explanation necessary!)

3) Resist the urge to pick up the sea critters. Prying the little guys loose can be very damaging to them. Just settle in and watch them right where they are.

4) Sturdy beach-trekkers are best for tidepooling. -You should never go tidepooling barefoot.- The rocks and barnacles can cut your feet. Also, tide pool rocks can be very slippery!

5) Walk gently, taking care not to step on any plants or animals.

6) Be careful not to disturb the tide pool rocks or lift them to look underneath. The sea creatures are under the rocks for many reasons. Exposing them to the hot sun or predators could mean serious trouble.

7) Take away only happy memories and photos of your day at the tide pools!

Southern California Tide Pool

Many localities have tide pool regulations protecting the animals and plants within the marine intertidal zone habitats.  It’s always best to know tide pool laws before you go!

You can easily check out California-specific tide pool rules and regulations: California has designated Marine Protected Areas (MPA).  According to the California Department of Fish and Game: “Some marine protected areas have overlapping boundaries. When regulations differ between overlapping areas, the more restrictive regulations apply… What are Marine Protected Areas? Marine protected areas (MPAs) are separate geographic marine or estuarine areas designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat. There are three types of MPAs designated (or recognized) in California: state marine reserve (SMR), state marine park (SMP) and state marine conservation area (SMCA).”

Laguna Beach, California is very specific when it comes to their tide poollaws! Municipal Code: “No person shall take, possess or disturb specimens of live or dead intertidal marine animal or plant life, or willfully injure, destroy or alter marine intertidal zone habitats.” (Ord. 1470 § 1 (part), 2007).

There is so much to see in a tide pool!

Tide pool regulations: Know before you go, and have a great day at the seashore!

Here are a few other helpful links on tide pools: Hermit Crab: A Different Kind of Beachcomber!

A Visit to the Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

What will you find in a Southern California Tide Pool?

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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