What we can learn from hermit crabs

My 6-year old brought home library books from school last Thursday, like she does every Thursday. It’s always fascinating to see her choices–she’s super into science and the natural world, so there’s usually one related to that.

Last week one of her books was about sea creatures. And let me tell you, in case you don’t know–there are some really, really weird sea creatures out there. 

But the most familiar one to me was the hermit crab. Though I know some hermit crab facts, reading about them hit me in a different way this time. 

Hermit crabs are not actually hermits, they’re communal creatures.  In the wild, they’re found in groups of 100 or more.  And though they’re known for their shells, they don’t actually make their own–they forage for the homes they carry on their backs, and they’re known to be quite particular about which shell they choose.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

So when a hermit crab grows larger, the old shell it’s been living in starts to get uncomfortable. There’s not enough room for this version of the crab, and it starts to look around for the right new home–one that’s large enough with room to grow, but not so big that it doesn’t fit. The old shell is given up to the community, where it will fit a smaller crab that also needs a new home.

And so it goes, this process of growing bigger, getting uncomfortable, and shedding the old to make room for the newer, more evolved version. 

What if the crab got stuck? What if it was so afraid of leaving what was familiar that it stayed smaller, dealt with the pain of the known to avoid the risks of the unknown, the risks of expanding and demanding more space? 

That’s a very human thing to think, and luckily hermit crabs–though quite smart–just don’t think that way. So they live their crabby lives, doing the next right thing and taking up the space they need.

We humans, however, are notorious for getting in our own way.

Are there ways that you’ve grown larger, and the old life just doesn’t fit anymore? Are you feeling constricted, but you’re afraid of change? Is there room in your current “shell” for a more evolved, expansive you? And most importantly…will you let yourself look for and accept what you need?

Be the hermit crab, my friends.



One more inch of water…what’s it worth?

An inch is such a tiny measurement, isn’t it? 

I know you all understand what an inch looks like, but for the purposes of this blog, here’s a visual:  ___________

I was reading an article published by the National Ocean Service (NOS) about the impact of one inch of water for cargo ships.

A ship needs a certain amount of water to float and not touch bottom; the water depth is called the ship’s “draft.” The more cargo a ship carries, the more it will weigh, and the more it will sink and need more draft. 

Even a slight decrease in the depth of a waterway will require a ship to carry less cargo. And conversely, one more inch of water means larger ships with millions of dollars more cargo. It also means fewer total trips to carry all that cargo, which translates to less environmental impact and cheaper goods. 

The NOS states that one more inch of water depth in a port means that a cargo ship can carry 57 more tractors.

Let me say that again. ONE MORE INCH of water depth means a cargo ship can carry 57 MORE TRACTORS. 

Isn’t that wild?

When I think about that huge cargo ship carrying all those tractors, I imagine the water underneath–how the water cradles and holds the ship upright, how it cushions the impact of all that heaviness, and how even one more tiny inch makes such a huge impact in that ship’s ability to carry the load and do what needs to be done.

And then I consider how a healthy community functions. How each of us alone is one little inch of water, but together we can move even the heaviest load across an ocean. 

What we can achieve alone pales in comparison to what we can do together.