Photograph and text by Susan McLean
From the August 2023 issue
I came upon three long-clawed hermit crabs on Cape Henlopen temporarily stuck in pools along the shore as the tide was falling; the largest being this shy guy who happens to reside within this pretty knobbed whelk shell. If you look closely you’ll see he has roommates — there were several small slipper shells fixed to the inside and outside of his shell.
As someone who walks the beach daily, I come across these types of shells often. Even when they are not occupied as this one was, I throw them back into the water in the hopes that some creature will turn the empty vessel that washed ashore into a home again. I like to think that perhaps this occupied shell was once an empty one that I previously returned to the sea.