Rock pools and sea, looking up Belfast Lough with Grey Point fort outpost

Hermit crab and the anemone

Hermit Crab and Anemone go everywhere together. But what happens if one of them wants to change shell?

Hermit crab and Anemone were friends...

They went everywhere together. They had to. They shared a shell! Hermit Crab didn’t have a hard shell of his own like others crabs. He lived inside an empty seashell and Anemone lived stuck to the top of it.

Hermit Crab helped Anemone by carrying her about the rocky shore and finding new places to feed. Hermit Crab was such a messy eater that there was always extra food floating about when he ate. Anemone would catch as much as she could eat with her tentacles.

In return, Anemone would help Hermit Crab hide from creatures that would eat him. If he stayed very still, with Anemone on top, he just looked like a stone. They made a great team.

‘We’re the greatest!’

‘We’re the best!’

But they didn’t always get on. Hermit Crab could be bossy and Anemone moaned a lot. Hermit Crab scuttled about whenever he wanted on the seabed looking for things to eat. ‘But I want to go that way,’ said Anemone waving her tentacles.

‘Well I’m going this way!’ said Hermit Crab waving his claw. And there was nothing Anemone could do about it.

‘It’s not fair!’ said Anemone.

‘Tell me about it, ‘ snapped Hermit Crab. ‘This shell is very heavy and you don’t make it any lighter! I carry you everywhere.’ They would have both gone off and sulked if Anemone wasn’t stuck on top of the shell and Hermit Crab wasn’t stuck inside it.

For better or worse, they were stuck together but one day, Hermit crab could feel his old shell becoming tight.

‘I need to find a bigger shell,’ he said.

‘Why?’ said Anemone, ‘What’s wrong with this one?’

‘It’s getting too small for me,’ he said. I’m growing too big to be cooped up in this old shell anymore. I need something bigger and better!’

‘But what about me?’ asked Anemone.

‘It’s all right. You can keep this one,’ said Hermit Crab. Everywhere he went he kept his eye out for an empty shell that would be big enough to become his new home.

‘What about this one?’ he would ask. But Anemone didn’t want him to leave. Every time he saw a shell, Anemone would say it wasn’t right.

‘That one?’ asked Hermit Crab. 

‘Too flat.’ ‘How about this one?’ It looks just the right size.’

‘No, it will be too tight.’

‘This one?’

‘It’s not your colour.’ Finally, he spied a shiny, empty shell and he knew it would be just perfect. And nothing Anemone could say would make him change his mind.

‘I don’t need you any more. I have found a new shell,’ he said.

‘Fine!’ said Anemone.

‘Good,’ said Hermit Crab.

Anemone sucked in her tentacles in a huff and closed up and Hermit Crab scuttled away in a sulk. Hermit Crab tried on the new shell. It was a perfect fit. It made him feel very handsome.

‘Grumpy old Anemone, I don’t need her now I’ve got my new shell,’ he said.

‘Bossy old Hermit Crab, I don’t need him,’ said Anemone, as she stuck to her old shell. ‘I’ve got this shell all to myself at last.’ But Hermit Crab found he was easily spotted in his new shell. He had to hide when an octopus swam by looking for a meal. He had had to hide when the tide went out and the gulls swooped down down looking for food.

‘It was never this hard with Anemone, ‘ said Hermit Crab. ‘She helped hide me and her stinging tentacles helped protect me. I hope that Anemone will have me back.’

Anemone found she was hungry. The only food she could catch with her tentacles was food that floated past and there was not very much of that. ‘It was never this hard with Hermit Crab,’ said Anemone. ‘I don’t have to wait for the food to come to me; we could go to the food. I hope Hermit Crab comes back.’

And he did.

‘You may be an old grouch, but I miss you!’ said Hermit Crab.

‘You may be an old boss-boots, but I miss you too,’ said Anemone.

‘Why don’t you come and live with me on my new shell?’ he asked. Therefore, Anemone slowly edged her way over.

‘What do you think of it?’ said Hermit Crab.

‘It could do with a few barnacles just to make it a bit more homey,’ said Anemone as she settled onto her new home.

‘As grumpy as ever. Can’t you say anything nice?’ said Hermit Crab.

‘I see you are as bossy as ever and I’ll say what I like!’ said Anemone.

Then they both laughed and laughed and the two old friends went off to find something to eat together.