St. John is a popular island, but in late July and early August the beaches get a little more crowded. Millions of locals flock to the beaches to have babies. No, it’s not millions of people, that would be disgusting and I’m sure illegal. We’re talking about millions of Hermit Crabs.
These hermit crabs, also called the soldier crab or the Caribbean hermit crab, are native to islands throughout the Caribbean. Every summer, millions of these armored crabs descend from their forest homes and make their way to the sea to release their eggs. Watching this march is one of natures most amazing spectacles.
Our friends at On-StJohn.com in conjunction with Pam Gaffin, author of “St. John: Feet, Fins and 4-Wheel Drive,” and local Cheryl Geller shot some video of the hermit crab march from a beach near Salt Pond. The coolest part is hearing all their little legs scooting around the rocks and their shells clanging around. Love nature!
Hermit Crabs Flowing into the Sea on St. John
The epic march begins on the forest floor in July or early August when the shell toting crabs meet up with others of their kind for a little sexy time. They mate by partially removing their bodies from their shells, allowing the males to drop off their sperm sacks. Then each female lays thousands of fertilized eggs and carries them around for about a month as they grow larger. The crabs continue their journey to the sea, sometimes covering distances of several miles.
Triggered by the crescent moon at the end of August or early September, the female crabs fumble into the water. The eggs burst and the larvae float into the waves once in contact with the salt water. Over the course of three or four days, they “wash” their eggs in the water and then all together, the hermit crabs make their way back to the forest.
How has Disney not made a movie out of this yet?!
Have you witnessed the hermit crab migration? I would love to hear about your experience!