I have been mucking about on beaches for thirty-seven years now. I have caught crabs, squid, baby lobster, swimmy fish of all sorts, mussels, clams, starfish, eels, jellyfish and anything else that chanced along the beach on my watch. Really, insofar as Newfoundland beach critters were concerned, I figured I had a fair experience and a relatively decent level of competence.
I can pick up a crab and not get bit, which is akin to some sort of childhood competency test for a Newfoundland kid.
So it’s not often that I get surprised by wildlife on a beach.
Yesterday I picked up a plain, old, ordinary-looking whelk shell on Salmon Cove Beach, thinking I’d add it to my collection, and almost dropped it when I realized it was occupied.
I’ve never before met a hermit crab in the wild.
Sure, you see them in those touch tanks at local science centres, where they show the wacky things that live in the ocean, but some of the items in those tanks are far more common than others. They show sea slugs and all manner of other things that live deeper than I generally venture. I always figured that hermit crabs were really uncommon, but it turns out that I’ve been hanging out on the wrong kids of beaches. I need to spend more time on sandier beaches with larger shells, if I want to meet more hermit crabs.
Lifting up clobs of seaweed is a fascinating beach-tolling pastime. You just don’t know what might be living in there. Crabs, for instance, often hang out under seaweed above water level at low tide until the tide comes in. Walking along a beach and peeking under seaweed can be just plain fascinating.
It was an interesting encounter and started us off on a full day of really neat discoveries and remarkable explorations.
More as I process the photos!