If you are swimming underwater and you spot a little shell on a rock, stop for a moment and have a look. You may get a pleasant surprise. But you will have to get very close because today’s character is really tiny.
The hermit crab (Pagurus anachoretus) is mostly found on the seabed of Las Canteras beach. This ten-legged crustacean can adapt its abdomen so that it fits in gastropod shells, which it uses as a dwelling. When the hermit crab grows too big forits shell, it looks for another bigger one and it moves home.
This little animal has a very complex anatomy. It has ten legs: the two front ones are pincers, used for eating and defending itself against predators (curiously the right one is thicker than the left); four legs are basically for moving and the other four are almost always hidden under the shell. The female crabs use them to protect their eggs. It also has two long antennae, a pair of little pincers inside its mouth and very eye-catching eyes.
But these are not the only interesting things about it. This little animal often lives attached to stinging seaweeds, which frequently cover its shell and can be fatal to its predators. Furthermore, hermit crabs fight violently and aggressively for new shells. Frankly, taking into account the size of their pincers, they will certainly not waste time arguing politely about who the house belongs to over afternoon tea!
The hermit crab is one of the creatures that has suffered the most from the excessive accumulation of sand on the beach. It loves living in the sea grassland formed by the seaweed cymodocea nodosa, and our lost ‘sebadal’ – an area full of seaweeds –, as well as in intertidal pools, formed by seawater that remains in the hollows of the rocks when the tide is low. “Unless you take your bucket and spade you don’t stand a chance, my little crustacean friend!”
Translation: Students from the 2nd Year 2008 at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.