Photographer Steve Simonsen films an epic Caribbean hermit crabmass migration at Nanny Point, St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This video has gone viral, and it’s pretty clear as to why! How many thousands and thousands and thousands of crabs are on this beach?!
Hermit crabs, also known as soldier crabs, are found throughout the Caribbean islands and take part in a great migration en masse annually in August to mate. The crustaceans travel to the beach, leave their shells and enter the water to lay eggs, according to Smithosianmag.com. After spending two minutes in the water, Simonsen said the crabs turn around, return to land and make their way home.
People who live on St. John know this happens in August. I’ve never been able to see it or know when it happens,” said Simonsen, who plans to study the creature’s migrations, moon phases, tides and stake out beaches next August to see the phenomenon again.
This class pet is named Shelby, and she is one very lucky hermit crab. Why? Because she’s about change into a brand new shell that fits her growing body. We’re lucky because we get to see her make the move.
The tip of the hermit crab’s abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell.
As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone. Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use “vacancy chains” to find new shells: when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on.
But don’t be fooled by that name! Hermit crabs are actually social animals that prefer groups. From Hermit Crab Patch: “In the wild, hermit crabs live in large colonies and are commonly found piled up on one another when sleeping.”