If you have never seen a Halloween Hermit Crab before don’t be too surprised, I’ve only ever seen them very far up into Myanmar, they definitely don’t seem to be in Phuket waters or elsewhere I’ve traveled, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out they are a dime a dozen somewhere else in the world. For me it’s a rare occasion, so finding them is exciting and even more fun when you can freak the hell out of your customers.
I had found this guy shimmying down the wall of the dive site, I took some photos of him and called my group over to get a look, it was a slow group and they were a way behind me, by the time they got to my spot, the Halloween crab had managed to slip off where he was walking and land upside down in a crack. Now I have 4 customers looking at me like ‘WHAT’ and nothing to show them. Lets get something straight, I do not advocate touching of marine life, in fact if you do it, you are an asshat, but I figured, one, I couldn’t hurt it, and two, I was probably helping him out by fetching him out of the crack and righting him on his way.
The best part of this little story is that the Halloween Crab had chosen the shell of the most poisonous animal in the world, the Cone Shell Sea Snail, one harpoon from that little snail and we wave you goodbye, there is no chance you are making it back alive, these shells are responsible for a great many deaths from idiots who think they are pretty and want one for their collection. So imagine the surprised, shocked, horrified faces of my customers, which consisted mostly of other instructors and photographers who knew exactly what the shell should have contained, when they see it sitting in my hand, me deliberately smiling like a fool. I’d love to know what they were thinking in those brief moments of ‘what has he got, oh a Cone Shell Snail, OMFG….
Anyway, I placed it carefully back on the shelf he had fallen off, motioned my group closer, and gave them the ‘Watch This’ signal. After a tense 30 seconds for them I guess, the Halloween Crab re-emerged and started to crawl off, holding his footing a little more stable this time ready for some more photos. It certainly made for a hell of a story back on the lievaboard, but again, unless you are a professional and know what you are doing, “Don’t Touch Anything”, even this is not strictly OK, but on that day, that is the way it unfolded.