Thursday, 24 April 2014

U is for Unusual Partners, Underground Caves ...


Unusual partnerships – Hermit crabs do not have shells of their own, so, as they grow, need to look for shells of dead animals in which hide their soft bodies ...

Hermit Crab inside Whelk shell,
without an accompanying anemone
... often the anemones on those rejected shells are carefully removed by the previous owner, the hermit crab, to the new shell!


Three in a bed” ...  the hermit crab, the anemone and the whelk shell ...


Hermit crabs queue up and on checking the empty shell for size – the most suitably sized hermit crab steps up ... moves house, anemones and all ... leaving ...


... another shell free for the same process ... somewhat reminds me of the little one said rollover ...

Hermit Crab in its hidden shell
with a Calliactis Anemone in a
symbiotic relationship

Perhaps more appropriately this behaviour is known as “vacancy chains” – a new phrase for the estate agency business?


Predator-prey relationships ... we know well ... but on the seashore ... different relationships happen for a reason:



Parasitism: one partner, the parasite, gains, but the other, the host, loses ... eg shore crabs are host to Sacculina – a strange creature related to the barnacles. 


Young shore crab with the
parasitic Sacculina (highlighted in
 yellow) attached to its underside
Sacculina attaches itself to a young crab (highlighted in yellow) and then grows “tentacles” that eat into the crab’s body, thus gaining nourishment and disabling the crab.


A ‘better’ name perhaps is a “parasitic castrator of crabs” ... I feel uncomfortable and sad!



Another type of relationship, but this time in which both partners benefit, is called symbiosis.  The hermit crab and the calliactis anemone live this way .. the anemone doesn’t harm the hermit host ...

  
c/o their web page
Up above the pointer is the harbour ... the land around
had sea ingresses in the past ...I'm not sure where the
cave system exits as such, for the deck chair hire


U is for underground caves, such as the system, that is known as Kents Cavern is to be found in Torquay, Devon.







The caverns and passages at the site were created around 2 million years ago ... and have been occupied by at least eight separate, discontinuous native populations known to have inhabited the British Isles.


Torquay 1811

The site has been privately owned for over 100 years ... and in those early years both Beatrix Potter (1893) and Agatha Christie, who lived in Torquay, visited ...



The caves were originally used as a storage and carpentry workshop in the manufacture of deck chairs ... for the Victorian tourists ...

Torquay 1842
You can see the change in the
harbour as trade opened up in
late Georgian and early Victorian
times

... now its very modern visitor attraction gives us an opportunity to see spectacular geological formations and significant historic finds, some 700,000 years old ...


More information can be found in Wikipedia and at this BBC site on the new visitor centre in 2004 ...





“Hampsley Cavern” in Agatha Christie’s 1924 novel The Man in the Brown Suit is based on the cave system she experienced during her cavern visits.






That is U for unusual non-ubiquitous unpromising, yet successful partnerships ... and U is for the ultimate Underground prehistoric cave system that is Kents Cavern ... to be found non-understatedly in the pleasure town of Torquay ... as part of Aspects of British Coasts ...



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

47 comments:

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

*shudders at the idea of that parasite* I much prefer symbiotic relationships :).
I've never heard of those caves, they sound fascinating - somewhere to visit next time we get down that way. The most amazing caves I've seen were in Yorkshire and that was mostly because we were the only ones in them (it was off season) and we could wander for as long as we liked. Wish I could remember what they were called - had a lovely cafe too :).
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

Maggie Winter said...

Hermit crabs, reading about them made me think, how cool is Mother Nature, fascinating stuff as usual Hilary. I'd never heard of those caves, thanks for the tip. :)
Maggie@expatbrazil

Juliet Batten said...

I never knew that about hermit crabs and anenomes. What a wealth of information you are finding in this theme Hilary.

Damaria Senne said...

Your section on Hermit crabs made me laugh. Somehow it broought to mind a line of hermit crabs, each waiting to move into the new shell. Mother nature is interesting.

Cecilia said...

We had hermit crabs for pets, unsuccessfully. Interesting little creatures. There are many cave systems in Australia that have plenty of visitors too. :)

Susan Scott said...

Thank you Hilary - amazing crabs and hermits using others' shells - like the cuckoo which uses other birds' nests? Some other 'home' ... share and share alike. 'Parasitic castrator of crabs' - decidedly uncompromising, yet unavoidable.
I love the thought of symbiosis where both partners benefit.
Torquay sounds like a MUST visit. Thank you!
Garden of Eden Blog

kaushikgovind said...

Underground caves look awesome, though scary. Would always look forward to read about them, or watch some documentaries regarding underground caves, and other underground topographies :)

mail4rosey said...

I think crustaceans are fascinating to look at, but I get scared if they get too close. Isn't that silly??

Beautiful, intricate designs on so many of them though.

Have a great Thursday!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post. Those poor crabs that get the parasite. :(

I had a hermit crab in my class for two years. I was terrified of touching it, so I had my students take care of it. We always had a few shells in the terrarium for him.

Bob Scotney said...

I've been checking the links to Kents Cavern but nowhere do they tell me how it got its name. There must be a man or woman named Kent somewhere, but as it's in Devon it can hardly have been named after the county.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I watched a documentary on them recently. Fascinating creatures!

Sue McPeak said...

Well done for 'U', and I felt uncomfortable, too...parasitic castigator...Yikes. Neat to know that famous authors are also inspired and write successfully about places they visit and 'Theme Prompts'...you are in good company.
Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

Fanny Barnes Thornton said...

Hello Hilary
The hermit crab story was so sad. I hope the little one had enough room to grow. Once they become sitting tenants I don't suppose the others can get rid of them.

I would never go into an underground cave. Some of those passageways are so narrow, and would scare me to death. It's more a fear of being vulnerable than of claustrophobia - no it's both!

Jo said...

I wondered where the name Kents had come from too.

Poor crab. I love the idea of the vacancy chains with all the crabs lined up to see who fits the shell.

Lots of interesting info once again.

Never been to Torquay.

Tina said...

Wonderful explanation of the hermit crab real estate market ;-) Simply fascinating. Also loved the bits about authors visiting.
As always, wonderful info.
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

Finley Jayne said...

Interesting topic for the letter 'U'!

Stopping in to say 'hi' from the A-Z challenge!
Finley Jayne
http://finleyjaynesbookshelves.blogspot.com/

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That thing that eats the crab is just creepy.

betty said...

Those underwater caves could be interesting to explore; not sure what I think about the info about the crab, nature is surely fascinating!

betty

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

The unusual is exciting and frightening at the same time. My dad used to explore caves in our area. I've only been to a few. And you know what? There's a lot of creepy crawlers in there.

cleemckenzie said...

What fascinating caves and the information about their influence on Agatha Christie was so interesting.
Had a good laugh about your Unusual Partners, especially the vacancy chains!

Ann Best said...

All VERY fascinating. And now I want to read The Man in the Brown Suit!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Fascinating creatures. I had no idea about all this. And I watch tons of marine series on TV. No idea about Agatha Christie's take on them either. You are a wonderful teacher, Hilary.

River Fairchild said...

Now I feel very sorry for the shore crab...and a bit "ewww" as well. :)
At least the hermit crabs are happy!

Thanks for visiting the UR site today!

River Fairchild – A to Z April Challenge
Untethered Realms

Margie said...

Fascinating post, as always, Hilary.
Poor crab, though.
You are doing a wonderful job with wonderful info on these posts AtoZ

Thanks, Hilary

Sophie Duncan said...

Parasites yuk - symbiosis yay! Seeing the natural world in harmony is uplifting. Hermit crabs lining up to try out a new shell must be quite a sight to see :).

Cave systems can be spectacular - I've visited Wookey Hole, Cheddar Gorge and two lots of cave systems in Yorkshire, of which, unfortunately I have forgotten the names, and they all had wonderful formations in them.

Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

Sara said...

ewwww...about the crab and the thing that eats it. I don't mind the hermit crabs, however. We used down near Key West almost every summer and there tons of hermit crabs. They cute dragging their shells along. It used to fascinate me.

Now, talk about fascination...the caves. I read lot of British mysteries that have featured underground caves...but in those books they were usually used for nefarious purposes.

I enjoyed "U" very much:~)

Sharon Bradshaw said...

Interesting facts about crabs, caves and Agatha Christie's experience. Some lovely U words too! It's a lovely post, Hilary, thank you :)

Lisa said...

I love exploring caves so I think I'll have to visit Torquay someday. I'm also going to check and see if I've read the Man in the Brown Suit! I love tidal pools when the tide is out and one can see the life you write about here, hermits, anemones, crabs, etc. I had no idea about that parasite on the crabs. So sad.One of my favorite stories growing up was about a hermit crab...

Mason Canyon said...

I never knew that about the Hermit Crab, quite interesting. The underground caves sound fascinating. They would be a great place to visit.

Romance Reader said...

Interesting post. I've seen crabs with thin coverings. I think this is why.

Jannie Funster said...

Wow, can you imagine a video about all those 6 tribes on the Torquay, would love to see them chronologically presented, I wonder how primitive (or not) the very first of them were. But Alas, shall I ever witness such a movie? I suppose if archeologists and such could convey all the information to Hollywood, I might just see such a film!

U is for Unbelievably Awesome is Hilary.

xooxoxoxoxooxoxo

Leandra Wallace said...

I had several hermit crabs for kids as pets. I was always worried they wouldn't like the shells I picked out for them! =)

Jannie Funster said...

Forgive my error in my first comment. Make that 8 native peoples, of course, and not the 6 as I wrote.

xoxoxooxxo

loverofwords said...

An Agatha Christie story I have not read--will have to see if I can get it. And, I remember my son having a hermit crab, I guess we bought it at a pet store. He did not last long, unfortunately. Always enjoy your blog, Hilary.

D Biswas said...

That sacculina thing creeped me out, but I'll remember it :)-- thanks for sucha varied and interesting post!
Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Paula Kaye said...

I really never heard the story of hermit crabs...interesting although a bit creepy....thanks for sharing

Slamdunk said...

Clever choice of a U word Hilary. I did not know much about hermit crabs...

Sharon Himsl said...

Did not know this about hermit crabs. I grew up combing the beaches of Puget Sound in WA state. Saw lots of these crabs. This kind of behavior is common in the insect world, too.
Shells–Tales–Sails

Shirley Wells said...

Another great post, Hilary. It's years since I read The Man in the Brown Suit. Must have a re-read. :)

Silvia Villalobos said...

The caverns ... looks so mysterious.
The shape and colors of the Hermit Crab ... fascinating. Torquay looked very nice in 1811. Yes, the change is visible. Same place, very different look. Thank you, Hilary.

Deniz Bevan said...

I hadn't known about those caverns - or Agatha Christie and Beatrix Potter's connections to them. Must visit next time we're in the UK!

Julia Hones said...

Reading this post reminded me of a visit to an aquarium in Chicago.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Tasha – useful for your ghoulish stories ... but yes symbiotic relationships are preferable. It’s near your neck of the woods in Somerset – and like you I hadn’t heard of these caves, nor have I seen the Yorkshire ones. Brilliant to have a ‘quiet’ visit without hoards of people ... and I note the cafe!

@ Maggie – isn’t Mother Nature so clever ... and I think a few of us will be visiting those caves at some stage or another ..

@ Juliet – the hermit crabs and anemones .. they were fun to find out about ..

@ Damaria – I think that’s what happens .. they all line up and see who fits .. and then move in. Fascinating to think about it ..

@ Cecilia – I’ve never thought about having a hermit crab as a pet ... interesting to watch though ... Cave systems in Australia must be amazing – I’ve never been ‘down under’ ..

@ Susan – crabs and cuckoos not quite the same .. the crab is a symbiotic relationship – the cuckoo is just a thug ... eating its ‘parents’ and siblings out of house and home. The parasitic castrator is another story though ... also rather sad – but that’s life ..

The caves do sound worth a visit – and when I next get down that way I shall call in ... I know nothing about Torquay either ...

@ Kaushik – there’s a wealth of knowledge from times gone by in caves – I’m not that keen on visiting .. but I will out of interest – like you so much to see ...

@ Rosie – well some large crustaceans can deliver a pretty big bite – so not silly ... and yes their shells are quite amazing aren’t they ... brilliant for artists to gain creative ideas from ..

@ Sharon – poor crabs with their parasites, I know .. but the hermit crab in your class ... and you let the students care for him – good for the students! Glad he had a few other shells in his mini aquarium ...

@ Bob – I know I emailed you re the answer from Wiki – but it appears the name came from a location called Kents Hole Close, which appeared on a 1659 deed when the land was leased to John Black ...

... and William Petre 1571 and Robert Hedges 1688 left their names scraped onto stalagmites in the cave system ...

Interesting to know about ...

@ Keith – I must at some stage watch a programme about hermit crabs ... I’ve seen them, but not paid much attention to their habits ..

@ Sue – yes the parasitic castigator could be exceedingly uncomfortable ... Finding out that both Beatrix Potter and Agatha Christie had visited or lived near by ... made for interesting correlations ...

@ Fanny – the hermit crab I thought was in for a good life ... they just needed to find a dead hermit’s shell ... and they were happy – seemed a good system to me ... they outgrow the shell and then have to find a bigger one ...

I went to the Cango caves, South Africa with my mother many years ago and yes we crawled through very narrow passages – I wasn’t that happy and was quite glad to get out! So I felt like you ...

@ Jo – as per my answer to Bob above .. and yes lucky hermit crab - at least being able to move house, while the parasitic crab is a little much ..

I hope to get to Torquay to see these caves ..

@ Tina – yes the hermit crab real estate market .. is a good title isn’t it . Amazing how far people travelled in those days – always amazes me .. rough roads and rickety coaches ...

@ Finley – good to meet you ... thanks for visiting ..

Part 2 following .. lovely to see you all - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – it is a little creepy isn’t it ..

@ Betty – I definitely will be visiting the caves to check them out ... but as you rightly say: nature is quite amazing and fascinating ..

@ Teresa – it’s so interesting to learn about life in all its forms ... that must have been fun accompanying your father at times to see what was in the caves ... and yes lots of creepy crawlies, I can imagine those ...

@ Lee – I must read her book on the caves ... but also visit in due course. Glad you enjoyed my take on the vacancy chains ...

@ Ann – so good to see you ... and yes like you .. the Man in the Brown Suit calls me to read about him ..

@ Joylene – it’s just fun putting things together and making snippets of interesting information ... I certainly have learnt lots from these posts ...

@ River – yes one poor crab with a rather unpleasant finish to life, and one who enjoys new homes! It was a pleasure to visit Untethered Realms ...

@ Margie – many thanks – just always pleased you enjoy the posts and visiting .. thanks ...

@ Sophie – you, like your sister, with your ghoulish stories should be too yukkified by this post! The natural world is extraordinary isn’t it ..

I haven’t visited Wookey Hole, nor for that matter seen Cheddar Gorge ... and the Yorkshire ones you mention ... one day I must make some trips underground ...

@ Sara – I know .. but nature is fascinating they way it works ... there are tons of hermit crabs aren’t there .. just from reading everyone’s comments, I’ve realised there must be lots of them ... and I’ve seen them wandering across the roads when they come ashore to breed – I think?

I wonder how Agatha Christie treats the caves in her book – I’ll have to visit the library to get the book out ... and see what her take on it is .. man in the brown suit – doesn’t sound terribly appealing ...

@ Sharon – many thanks .. glad you enjoyed the U – it was a good one to write ...

@ Lisa – like you .. Torquay is now on my list to visit. Also the book ... and when the tide is really low again in about a month I must walk out to the tidal pools and see what gives ... taking me back to childhood ... How lovely to have memories of your hermit crab special book ...

@ Mason – I find the info I find out interesting – so am glad you do too ... and the underground system I’ll be visiting on one of my trips to the west country ...

@ Nas – yes the hermit crab has evolved to need another shell to protect its soft body – so you are absolutely right ...

Thanks to you all – love all the comments and interest ... part 3 following ... Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jannie – I’m looking forward to finding out more about those different human species, when I visit Torquay .. or when I go to the Natural History Museum for the new exhibition on man in this country ... they’ll be primitive versions of us – the humans they found recently in East Anglia weren’t homo sapiens ... but an earlier version ...

When I go to the Natural History Museum .. I’ll check if they’ve got a video promoting the exhibition – I’m sure they have .. and that will give you an idea ... so perhaps we don’t need to involve Hollywood?!

@ Leandra – we never had an aquarium ... but as a kid it must have been amazing to be able to watch the crabs move home ... I hope they did like your shells?

@ Natalie – yes I’ll be looking out the Man in the Brown Suit from the library ... oh dear poor crab ... that’s the way of natural life and children isn’t it ... and thank you for the kind comment.

@ Damyanti – glad you’ll remember the sacculina parasite ... nature is amazing though .. and so pleased you enjoyed the post ..

@ Paula – I sort of knew, but had forgotten the hermit crab story .. so it was interesting to write about ...

@ Slamdunk – thanks re my U words ... and glad the hermit crab amused you ...

@ Sharon – I gather there are lots of hermit crabs around the States coasts ... but I hadn’t realised their behaviour was similar in the insect world ... perhaps you meant the parasitic sort ..

@ Shirley – I think a few of us will be reading the Man in the Brown suit ... glad it brought back memories to re-read ...

@ Silvia – I think now the caverns will be rather touristy .. still it will be interesting to visit, which I will now do. I’m glad I put the two pictures in re Torquay – to see the harbour changes ...

@ Deniz – well you’re nearer now to visit the UK ... so I expect you’ll get down ... a new place to explore ..

@ Julia – glad I reminded you of your Chicago visit – the aquariums now are just amazing ...

Cheers to you all –thanks for coming by and leaving such interesting comments .. Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

"Three-in-a-bed"? *chuckles*
Gives new meaning to the concept menage-a-trois?
"vacancy chains" - don't let the realtors catch on to this one...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - I should have picked up you've commented here .. Blogger seems to be losing some comments and they don't get through to my email - hence I don't know you or someone has commented ...

It was a fun post to write ... vacancy chains within the three in a bed?!

Cheers Hilary