Hermit crabs are almost as common as Roosters on the island but they're more tolerable because they don't make as much noise.
When you walk along the National Park road (a 1/4 mile stretch of asphalt along the south side of Red Hook Harbor) you can see holes in the ground to the sides of the road. If you catch it just right you can see hermit crabs scurrying back to their holes to escape danger.
One day while walking along Magen's Bay Beach I spotted what looked like a tiny(ish) conch shell at the water's edge. It was perfectly formed and in great shape. Not a flaw. What a find! Being a beachcomber from way back, I did what I should not have done. I picked it up.
Happy with my findI put it in my pocket and brought it home. When I got home I rinsed the shell off in the sink and set it on top of the clothes dryer to dry.
That night, as I was slinking off to sleep after a very nice day, I heard a scuffle from the laundry room. It sounded like someone thrumming their nails on the clothes dryer like an impatient boss.
I got up to investigate and found that this lovely little conch shell was alive and not with a conch! It was a hermit crab. Hermit crabs, it seems, grab whatever shells are available and make them their home. Nature's recycling program. This guy was trying to escape from Stalag Attenborough. I picked him up and put him in the kitchen sink. I didn't want him to inadvertently through himself off Mount Clothes Dryer. A three and a half foot drop can kill a hermit crab in or out of it's shell.
The next morning I went down to the beach with the little fella and I put it down next to the water. He was shy at first - again - but I waited a while as it scurried away and found shelter.
I learned my lesson. Don't freaking touch the wildlife.
You're not allowed to take shells off the island anyway and you really shouldn't mess with mother nature. So, look, gawk, stare and observe but please don't feed the animals or disturb what is in nature if you can possibly help it.
I was lucky the little guy lived. I guess he was a bit more lucky than me. I learned my lesson and he escaped with his life. He also had a great story to tell his grandchildren about his trials on Mount Clothes Dryer and the day he almost met his maker.
If you want to watch a really cool video of Hermit Crab migration on St John just click on this link here.
Have a great day.