Sea Creatures in Your Neighborhood – Summer 2020 Edition

June 22nd, 2020

The Long-Clawed Hermit Crab (Pagurus longicarpus) – please use this template for guidance.

Have you ever walked through a shallow, intertidal beach and noticed a small, dark object moving along the sandy bottom? If so, chances are that you’ve seen a long-clawed hermit crab, one of many marine crustaceans found along the Jersey shore. A close relative of lobsters, long-clawed hermit crabs are invertebrates with exoskeletons that shed in order for the animal to grow.  Like lobsters, long-clawed hermit crabs have two chelipeds (claws). but instead are narrow and unequal in size, with the right one growing larger than the left. They have five pairs of legs and use the first three pairs for walking; the fourth and fifth pairs are small and modified to hold into the gastropod (snail) shell that they carry on their backs.  Hermit crabs “wear” unoccupied gastropod shells to protect their soft, elongated abdomens and will change shells when they outgrow the current one.

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife (fact sheet)

Did you know…

1. Hermit crab eggs hatch into larvae, called zoea. After molting several times, the zoea become megalops which then develop into juveniles, which will then grow into adults.

2. Long-clawed hermit crabs are the ultimate recyclers because, as scavengers, they recycle energy back into the ecosystem.

3. Long-clawed hermit crabs can regenerate lost limbs when they molt.

Check out this cool video of a long-clawed  hermit crab changing shells with anemones. And here’s another clip of hermit crabs living in aluminum cans.

Learn more about NJSGC’s #SeaCreaturesInYourNeighborhood challenge here.