Pagurus spp. (Hermit crabs)
2005 Mary Jo Adams
crabs are real crowd pleasers. Adults and kids alike enjoy
watching as these little crustaceans clamber through tidepools dragging
their living quarters along with them. Hermit crabs are a
part of nature's cleanup crew foraging primarily on detritus but
also scavenging on plant and animal material. Three species are
most commonly seen in intertidal waters of the Salish Sea.
hairy hermit crab ( Pagurus hirsutiusculus ) is found a
bit higher in the intertidal than the other two local species.
Look for it in the high and mid zones and ranging to a depth of
360 feet. This species tends to live in cramped quarters,
inhabiting a shell that seems a bit too small and that the animal
cannot withdraw its body into completely. Look for white
bands toward the distal ends of the walking legs and antenna that
are colored gray-brown with lighter bands. There may also
be some blue dots on the walking legs but this is variable.
The carapace of this small animal reaches a maximum length of about
granosimanus , commonly known as the grainyhand hermit crab
inhabits the lower intertidal to waters 120 feet deep. The
red antennae and blue or white grainy looking speckles that dot
the claws and walking legs make it easy to identify. This
species has a maximum carapace length of about 0.8 inch.
It usually picks a shell that it can completely withdraw into and
may in fact pick one that is almost too large for it to carry.
beringanus is also a lower intertidal species with a range
extending to a depth of almost 1200 feet. This hermit crab
is slightly larger than the other two species with a carapace length
to 1 inch and lives in a shell that can accommodate its entire body.
The walking legs of the Bering hermit crab are pale blue
with red spots and banding. Its claws are red with a spiny
This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 12/6/05.