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HERMIT CRABS <3 June 16, 2010

Posted by Becky Byler in Travel Log.
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SO. We have been working with Hermit Crabs for the past few days at Les Rotes Beach in El Montgó Natural Reserve, and let me just say that although I began this research feeling a little bit squeamish about picking up crabs, I have had so much fun researching them! It’s still a little bit hard for me to pick up the bigger crabs, since their claws actually hurt a little bit, but I have definitely gotten a lot more brave since we started.

Mediterranean Hermit Crab (Cilbanarius erythropus)

We arrived in Dénia three days ago around 2pm, after spending the morning at Devesa, a dune area located in La Albufera Nature Reserve. While we were only there for a few hours walking the beach and dunelands, we learned a lot about ecological succession and attempts to reintroduce native plants to the area. About 30 years ago, the area was slated for a tourist destination, so most of the natural habitat was destroyed when locals put in parking lots, hotels, and more direct beach access. Over the past ten years, the Valencian government has instituted a lot of environmental laws to reverse these poor environmental actions, which have helped return Devesa back to some semblance of its former self.

Holding Hermit Crabs at Les Rotes Beach

It was positively pouring rain when we first arrived in Dénia, so we actually spent most of our first few hours at the lunch restaurant and getting settled into the hotel. It didn’t take long for the rain to clear up, however, and we surveyed the site later in the afternoon. We returned back to our hotel (which, by the way, had a gorgeous pool!) so that we could get ready for dinner and watch the soccer game. I am a huge aficionada, so it was a lot of fun knowing that you could go out to a fancy restaurant but still have the game playing on a makeshift TV in the center of the restaurant.

After going to bed relatively early, we work up to discuss our research with Dr. Snell and Pau before heading out to the beach. It was another extremely raining day, so much so that we could barely work in the deeper areas of the rocky shoreline and had to take periodic breaks in order to ensure we didn’t get hypothermia. We left the site around 2pm to climb some of the high cliffs nearby, and we got to see some of the most breathtaking views of the area.

Caves in El Montgó Natural Park

Today’s weather conditions were very different from yesterday: both the water and sky were both a bright blue. We finished up collecting our data on the different shell species of the hermit crabs, in an effort to see what affects shell selection, and then the entire group walked a few miles to a local cave. The cave was absolutely gorgeous, and totally worth the long, perilous trip it took to get there!

Right now I am working on my presentation, which we will present to the class on Thursday. I am very excited about it, since I think we have collected a lot of really cool data! It’s weird to think that I take my finals before my presentation, and that I leave for Honduras, where I will be working for the next two months, this Friday! This summer has really passed by so quickly.

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