Our latest National Geographic diver, Viviane Kaier recently completed the follwing project during the 2 day specialty course.
Pagurus Bernhardus – Common Hermit Crab
Found all along the Irish coast both on rocky and sandy seabeds and in pools along the shore.
It is usually a brown colour with reddish markings. They can grow to a length of 4cm to 8cm. They have been found in waters up to 30m deep.
The hermit crab makes its home in the shells of other sea creatures such as mollusks. The front of the hermit crab is protected by the typical crustacean armour while the end of the crab is soft and can be fully coiled into the shell.
When threatened the crab can fully retract into the shell with the larger right-hand claw forming a barrier across the entrance.
As the hermit crab grows it must replace its shell. Smaller hermit crabs live in smaller mollusks while the larger ones live in whelk shells.
The hermit crab can eat a variety of different foods, they can prey on other animals, scavenge on bottom deposits and filter food from the water
Reproduction takes place in January and February but in deeper waters, where seasons are not very distinct, females can be found carrying eggs throughout the year. Eggs are usually carried for about two months attached to the few abdominal legs. The symmetrical hatchlings will stay for some additional weeks with their mother before becoming pelagic. Maturity is typically reached before one year of age.
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