It's a crab species known as 'eurypodus latreilli' in Patagonia and as 'oregonia gracilis' in northern waters. Its common name is the Graceful Decorator Crab. It doesn't hurt to move him to another location. In the book Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest Andy Lamb states: "using virtually any material, this fastidious crab rips off pieces of its environment and then attaches them to its body. In captivity, if a specimen is moved to a different background, it will remove its old wardrobe and re-festoon."
If you like to walk ocean beaches and have that opportunity, every summer you may come upon all sorts of crab shells. Don't worry - if they have no meat on them, these are just abandoned shells that have been outgrown by bigger crabs. Of course, hard shells get too small as crabs grow, and they cast them off through a process called 'molting'. As GJ Jensen has written in 'Pacific Coast Crabs and Shrimps' "molting is a remarkable process. A molting crab leaves behind an exact and usually intact replica of itself, down to the surface of its eyes and gills and even the lining of its stomach".
If you see an abandoned crab molt, just imagine the complex manoeuvres the animal went through to get out of his shell. These shells are often used like recycled clothing by other underwater crustacean species. The propagurus fusitriton - pictured here - is wearing (in this case) a recycled fusitriton cancellatus shell.
|propagurus gaudichaudi hermit crab|
Since the molt itself takes very little time, preparation and execution for both partners in this duet has to be as perfect as a sonata performance at Carnegie Hall.
At 2017-11-04 10:00 (utc) our position was 52°40.92'S 073°46.30'W