Experimental Tropical Marine Ecology

Day 6: Hermit crab bait and Jurassic Park
by -- October 13th, 2010

Setting up bait traps for hermit crabs.

Today we headed to the island of Bastimentos to bait some hermit crabs. Then, we swam around for an hour or so, and got to see tons of interesting fish. Finally, we came back to continue our laboratory investigations.

You know, we were told that it would rain every afternoon in Panama, but so far, the only rain we’ve gotten came last night. I thought the streak would end today, however, when ominous clouds started rolling in as we got on the boat to begin our day. I even felt a few tiny raindrops as we anchored the boat and began swimming ashore… then the sun came out for the rest of the day!

Today, we went back to the place where we collected hermit crabs. We came back to collect more, but this time we used bait to see what they liked best. We stuffed dead hermit crabs (which = a new shell), snails (also a new shell), and dead mackerel into plastic tubes with holes so that the crabs could smell them. Then we swam as we waited.

Surprisingly, the only bait the crabs came to was the dead hermit crab bait! We collected them up and will run orientation experiments tomorrow. Similar to the ones from Day 4, we’re going to put them in a chamber filled with white light with a small (10-degree) black target. Our prediction is that 100% of the crabs will go towards the target, which symbolizes a new shell – since they all gathered ’round the bait, hoping to snatch up a new home. I’m excited to see if that’s true, but it will have to come tomorrow!

After collection, we went to a nearby beach to swim around – also known as Jurassic Park. Really, that’s what these islands remind me (and others) of, and you can see why in the picture down below. I snorkeled near some rocks by a cliff and saw some amazing fish, and I wish my cameras weren’t disposable so I could upload some photos. We’re going back later in the week, though, so I’ll get Dr. Forward to take some neat pictures. Martin said he saw a few barracudas – who like to nibble on toes – so that was a little worrisome.

I only have a few pictures from today but I’m planning on making a separate posts just for “extra” pictures of the things we’ve done – I know Kia has some cool ones of the rainforest and the caiman that lives outside our lab. Look for that sometime soon! In the meantime, here are the one’s that Dr. Forward took:

Our experimental setup – bait in plastic tubes, anchored to the ground with sticks so larger crabs wouldn’t run off with it.

Here, a crab shows interest to the bait – a dead hermit crab.

Our group picture taken by the beach of Bastimentos!

Remind anyone of Jurassic Park?

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff