Hermit crabs are my friends.
When I was younger, my family and I would frequent aquariums up and down California. My favorite place to be was by the touch tank; after running around and exploring various exhibits, I was more than content standing by the touch pools for ages. I learned how to gently interact with the colorful invertebrates populating them, and decided that hermit crabs were potentially the best creatures on the planet. I loved that they switch their shells as they grow and that they have a collaboration system with other hermit crabs to trade off shells in a size order. I adored the way they reuse existing materials in the ocean to build their homes. I admired the symbiotic relationships that certain species form with other organisms like sea anemones to try and ward off predators. My mom started referring to me as a hermit crab myself, since as a child my favorite thing to do would be to hole up in the corner of a room with books, frequently ones about marine life.
I still love visiting tide pools to see my hermit crab friends and more. Every time, I discover something new about these tiny universes: the minuscule brittle stars that like living on the backs of the sea cucumbers, the California mussels hosting hundreds of tiny barnacles along their shells, the chitons burrowing themselves into the algae almost undetected. I’m increasingly amazed by how resistant tide pool creatures are; despite waves crashing down and retreating in unpredictable intervals, these organisms have developed the means to thrive in the extreme environment.
I now live closer to the beach than I ever have before. Tidepools are a mere walk away from my dorm, and they remind me that life is not only bearable, but also beautiful. If a hermit crab can deal with tides receding, humans grabbing, and constant moving between residences, I can find a home wherever I find myself.
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