Category Archives: Sea life

red crab underwater

A Day on the Indian River Turns Up a New Discovery

We went out on the boat yesterday, my son and I, and ended our day at Three Sisters, which is a group of three islands in the Indian River backwaters. The tide was coming in so there was no sand showing, but it was shallow enough to walk and search for shells.  We were the only ones there until a pontoon boat with a family aboard pulled up as we were leaving.

While walking the shallows, I came across this rather large shell.  It was moving but I could see something red.  At first I thought it was something growing off the side of the shell because the hermit crabs I always see are not red.

seashell under water
Tiny bit of red on this underwater seashell – I’m curious

The shell was moving, as were all the other shells I saw, because they are always occupied by hermit crabs.

Because this one had color, I thought that the conch may still be inside – a living seashell. Some conchs can be brightly colored like the horse conch I once found.  It was difficult to see through the murky water.

red crab underwater
I needed a closer look

Even though the water was shallow it was hard to see exactly what I was looking at. The camera captures a more clear image because in reality I was dealing with moving water. So I had to pick it up and get a better look.

It is seldom ever that I find an empty shell out on the river. Something is always inside. The ends of the shell are always the safest for grabbing so the crab won’t pinch me. And it’s a good thing I was careful because look what I pulled up from the sea!

giant red hermit crab in broken shell in the wild
Giant Red Hermit Crab

I apologize for not having a better, more centered, photo, but it’s difficult to see with the sun glare when taking photos with my iPhone. I have to tip my sunglasses so I’m not looking through them just to see the screen, and even then it’s not clear.  There is no way to see if the image is blurry, so I just hope for the best.  Fortunately these pictures turned out pretty clear.

giant red crab florida
Giant Red Hermit Crab found in the Indian River

In all my time out walking the shallows of the Indian River backwater I have never seen a red hermit crab.  I took a couple of quick photos and put him down.  Usually the hermit crabs I see retreat back into the shell when picked up.  Not this guy… he was bold.  I didn’t want to bother him, so I put him and his broken shell back down. In fact, if his shell hadn’t been broken, so I could see a little bit of his color, I may have passed it by assuming it was just another typical hermit crab.

I had to look this one up when I got home and found some info at TribenWater, where the writer (who is from New Smyrna Beach) says they are native to Florida but “not often seen”.

Then I checked my Florida’s Living Beaches book and found that these crabs live on reefs and are “beached after storms”.
There are no reefs in the Indian River and this red crab must have been far from his home.  His shell looks like an old crown conch, and it was pretty broken.  I’m thinking he must be searching for a new shell to live in.

Anyway, that was my amazing find.  It was such a hot day, and the water had to be 90 degrees.  I’m looking forward to cooler weather.

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hermit crab in seashell

Hermit Crabs and Why They Must Fight For Those Seashell Homes!

hermit crab in seashell
Tiny Hermit Crab at Beach

If you read this blog, you have probably grown tired of me talking about hermit crabs, but here I go again!   Usually I am complaining that every awesome shell I come across out in the backwater is inhabited by a hermit crab.

This time I am going to tell (and show) you just how crazy things can get when hermit crabs fight for those seashell homes. It’s a crab vs. crab world down under the sea.

First of all, if you know next to nothing about crabs, here’s a bit of info.

Hermit crabs are not like regular crabs you find along the beach.  We don’t eat them.  Regular crabs scurry across the sand without taking their home along on their back.  It’s difficult to ever see the entire body of the hermit crab, as it is usually hidden within a shell.  A hermit crab will “hang” out of the shell sometimes (like in the photo above), but he will not come all the way out.  If you are lucky enough to be present when he swaps his old shell for a new one, you can get a quick glimpse of the back end of his body.

That shell it carries with it used to belong to a snail – land, or marine.  The hermit crab did not make the shell he lives in, and will stay in it only as long as he fits well inside.   Once the fit is too tight, he will have to find another shell to occupy.  His life depends on it.  The shell will have to be already empty… they don’t kill snails or mollusks to take a shell.  And they don’t fight other hermit crabs that are already inside a shell.

hermit crabs

Imagine that your present home will have to be abandoned as you grow.  You can’t stop growing, so it’s a constant hunt for a new place to live.  Without a shell to hide in, a hermit crab’s life is in peril.

In this NatGeo video, deceptively entitled “Hermit Crab vs. Conch”, a large Horse Conch chases down a tulip snail (banded tulip) and digests it. But the main story is about the hermit crabs who need to find new and larger real estate for their growing bodies. They realize that the horse conch will spit out the left over shell when he’s done eating the snail and they all want that house!

Did you see the shells those hermit crabs are scurrying around in? One was a pear whelk (yellow shell), and one was a shaped like a shark’s eye, or moon snail.

Here’s another amazing video of a hermit crab changing shells, but this one takes her “friends” with her!  Smart creature!  (This shell looks like some kind of knobbed triton.)

You may wonder why the crab doesn’t just find a big shell to live in so he won’t have to worry about trading out his home.  That won’t work because if the shell is too big, he can’t carry it around as easily.

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(Photo credits: Pixabay)

sharks eye with hermit crab

Almost Got A Gorgeous Sharks Eye

sharks eye with hermit crab
Bottom of Sharks Eye shell with hermit crab showing

The sharks eye seashell is easy to identify with it’s round, swirled shape. I have a few of them, but the big ones (they can be up to 3 inches across) are truly gorgeous.

The shell is smooth and usually a gray-brown color. It’s a chunky round shell and I’m always on the lookout for one when I am near the ocean.

While walking along a deserted beach on a little island I found a gorgeous shark’s eye! It was big and so lovely. Then, my excitement lessened as I went to pick it up and it moved. A hermit crab had taken up residence inside. Just like all the other awesome shells I had found that day, it was a home for the spider-like crabs.

Photos were all I could take with me, as I put the shell back on the sand. Darn, it was a beauty!  I lightened up the image above so you could see the hermit crab tucked up inside the shell.  They usually don’t come out unless left totally alone.  Some of them are up inside the shells so far that they can’t be seen at all (which is why I took one home by accident).  And almost every shell I find out on the Indian River has a hermit crab inside it!

sharks eye
Sorry for the blurry shark’s eye photo

I only had my cell phone camera and it’s difficult to see anything in the bright sun.  I basically have to take the shots blind and hope for the best.  This one didn’t come out so great, but I figured I’d share so you can get an idea of that “eye” in the center top.

If it had been empty, I’d have collected it in a minute!  I think it would have cleaned up nicely.

While beach-combing in another area I managed to find a tiny shark’s eye shell in the sand.  It was broken, but I snatched it up anyway.  No crab inside this one!

I also found more interesting seashells that day.  If you are interested, go read that post.

sharks eye
Little Sharks Eye Shell

Sharks Along the Coast of Florida and Why We Don’t Care

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Shark (photo: derwerbepool @ Pixabay)

You may have heard the recent story of a half eaten shark washing ashore on New Smyrna Beach, in Florida. This is where I live, and it’s the beach I visit most often.  Usually shark stories involve people being bitten, but this time the shark got chomped, presumably by a much larger shark. And he did not live to brag about his shark bite scars!

The story was out there to read on many sites. Some made a big deal out of it, and others (mostly Florida based) did not.  That is wildlife for you.  The bigger stuff eats the smaller stuff.  This time the smaller stuff was a five-foot shark.

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-11-04-amI have a friend who finds it difficult to believe I will go swimming at Florida beaches. (He lives in Michigan) He’s read all the stats about Florida having the most unprovoked shark attacks, and (incorrectly) believes anyone who ventures into the ocean, or any water, in and around Florida will be putting themselves in danger.

Florida is full of creepy stuff. Animals AND people make up that category. We live among alligators, poisonous snakes, and big nasty spiders, and yes, predatory ocean life. But, just like the land creatures don’t keep us out of our yards, the sea creatures don’t keep us from swimming, surfing, and waterskiing.

We have to be careful and observant. Sharks can be found close to the coast all around Florida, but the bites tend to happen in certain spots more than others. The jetty, where the waves break, attracts surfers, and surfers tend to be the ones who get bit.
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I have been lazing about in the warm ocean water just offshore only to see a large fish silhouetted in a wave.  It’s pretty cool really. Or suddenly we spot a fin only a few yards away… is it a shark fin? We are not sure, so we hightail it out of the water. But we can’t stay out.  And that fin may have been a dolphin or some other non life-threatening fish.  We splash back in, our fears forgotten.

The weather is too hot to NOT go swimming. The water is too beautiful and warm to NOT enjoy it. The beauty and wonder overtakes the fear. So we swim and don’t worry about what might be out there swimming around near us. For the most part we are left alone and get back home unscathed, except for the sunburn where we missed with the sunscreen.

As I float in the unbelievably warm ocean, and feel the waves roll me up and down, it is my own little paradise.  No negative thoughts allowed, and that includes sharks!

I can only pity my friend who does not know what he is missing.

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A New Love

(All photos on this page came from the free, public domain site, Pixabay)

purple beach glass

Beach Glass, Seashells and Sea Creatures in Photos

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am still getting settled in my new place, but soon I will be out on the beach and boat finding new things to share on my blog.
For now, enjoy these photos from the public domain. Find them all at the Pixabay site. Each one has a link to the photographer who shared them.

green beach glass
Credit: Wokandapix

Learn about sea glass so you’ll know which colors are most rare and how some people sell it as real, but it’s been hand tumbled.

purple beach glass
Credit: Halfpintohoney
baby at beach big seashell
Credit: Pixabay

What kind of seashell is this next to the baby? My guess is a Queen Helmet (Cassis madagascariensis), as they can be as big as 12 inches.

squid sea life
Credit: Marcel