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.
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.
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!
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.
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.