Hermit Crab Addiction

Hermit crab, Loch Long
A hermit crab (Pagarus bernhardus) watching the divers swim by, Loch Long. Nikon D200 in Sea & Sea housing, Tokina 10-17mm, twin Sea & Sea YS-110a strobes

Does anyone else find hermit crabs additive photographic subjects? I find it very hard to swim past one and not oblige it with a portrait. I’m not sure why they’re so addictive. It might be because they seem to ooze character with their cheeky body language and their habit of stationing themselves in prominent locations. It might be because of the amazing range of shells they occupy- all shapes and sizes and even with holes in; the shells are also often adorned with other sea creatures along for the ride. It might be their strong red colour, which often looks striking on a bland dive site. Or, it might be the challenge of capturing all the fabulous detail of their heads and claws.

They are a very common subject, but they are not an easy one to photograph well. There is a lot of white on their shell, which is easy to burn out with the flash. Talking of flash- black background or green water? They have a habit of sitting in an inviting position and, just as the camera is almost in the best spot, moving jerkily off. Those eyes on stalks are complemented by antennae long and short, and one must capture them just in the right position for a pleasing photo.

Well, this I could not swim past this fella in Loch Long. I was shooting with a fisheye and he (she?) was large and sitting well off the flat sea bed on a piece of kelp. An inviting position and a co-operative subject. There was however, rather more silt in the water for my liking. Nevertheless, I blasted off a dozen or so shots. I’m fairly pleased with this shot, but it won’t keep me swimming past the next hermit I see…


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