An a’ama crab sits on a rock, watching and waiting. Then a swell rolls in covering the crab with white water until only a single eye is visible.
This is the molted shell of an a’ama crab, seen on the North Kohala shore. A’ama crabs are numerous around the Big Island and they scuttle away when disturbed. But while these crabs are black, their molted shells turn red in the sun, as this one has.
My wife spotted this crab scuttling quite rapidly along the floor of the bay where we were snorkeling. It was clearly some kind of hermit crab, but it was quite deep and this was the best photo I got.
When we got home, I looked through my copy of John P. Hoover’s Hawaii Sea Creatures and the jeweled anemone crab seemed the most likely identity. As can be seen in the photo, the shell is covered with anemones which is a feature of these crabs. Since these crabs are mostly night feeders, we were lucky to see one still active in the early morning. Possibly it had been disturbed and was headed to a new hiding place.
It’s not unusual to see green turtles hauled out on shore. Sandy beaches are prime resting spots, but these three chose this rocky bay, only a few hundred yards from some of the best beaches on the island. Perhaps they valued quiet over easy access.
The middle one of the three had gained a passenger that I didn’t notice until I processed the photos, an a’ama crab, making the most of its excellent vantage point.
A bristle-thighed curlew making its way along the shoreline at Kiholo while searching for food. The photo at right shows it with a small crab that it plucked from one of the tide pools.
One of the first things anyone visiting a rocky seashore here will see is lots of little black shapes skittering away. Those shapes are a’ama crabs.
On this day, I had, as usual, spooked the crabs into motion, but after putting a little distance between me and them, they settled down again. Where they settled was on this sloping rock next to a blowhole. Moments later, water shot out of the blowhole creating this scene.
Where I would have been squealing and running from the sudden deluge, the a’ama crabs remained. I guess, living on these rocky shores, they are well used to this sort of thing.
This week’s WordPress photo challenge seeks distractions and for me, one thing that gets my attention is movement. I see something out of the corner of my eye and I wonder what it was, then try to find out.
In this instance, I was crossing a beach when I noticed bits of it get up and scurry away. Closer inspection revealed several of these pallid ghost crabs. They’re beautifully camouflaged, but if that cover is blown, they zip away, and I do mean zip. They take off like Usain Bolt, then stop and disappear again.
If that doesn’t work, say because some annoying individual with a camera stays hot on the trail, the crab will head for its burrow, perch on the edge, and at the slightest unwelcome movement, disappear from view.
A’ama crabs can be seen on any visit to the shore. My appearance is usually met by a host of them scuttling for shelter. These crabs have cells called chromatophores that help camouflage them on the black lava rocks. When they shed their shells, the shell’s chromatophores are no longer alive and their true red color is revealed.