May 1 – Martin Z. Mollusk Day

Posted on May 1, 2014

This is the real Martin Z. Mollusk.
Today in Ocean City, New Jersey, people are gathering to see if a hermit crab named Martin Z. Mollusk can see his shadow.

The time? 11:00 in the morning.

The place? The beach adjacent to the Ocean City Music Pier.

The local high school's band will play “Pomp and Circumstance” to give the feeling of gravitas for the event.

This is some guy dressed up as Martin Z.
Then a procession of pretend “celebrities” will parade into the area surrounding the “Circle of Truth,” and there will be a song or two and a few pretty speeches.

Then—the moment of truth—the hermit crab will emerge from hiding and either see, or not see, his shadow! If he sees his shadow, hooray! – summer comes to Ocean City a week early! If he doesn't – no worries, summer will still come...just right on time.

Okay, yes, this is a complete rip-off of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania's, Groundhog Day. But it brings people into town on Thursday before the big Spring Block Party on the weekend. For several days there will be 350 vendors in the streets, live entertainment, pony rides, fun for the tens of thousands of people who come to town!

By the way, I read that, so far, Martin Z. Mollusk has ALWAYS seen his shadow!

Just a minute, here!

If Martin is a hermit crab, why is he “Martin Z. (the) Mollusk”? Don't you know, hermit crabs are crustaceans, like other crabs and shrimp and lobster?

What's the difference between mollusks and crustaceans?

Here's one way they are alike:

Neither mollusks nor crustaceans have an internal skeleton (bones).
Both of them have external skeletons – called exoskeletons. (Well, MOST mollusks and all crustaceans have exoskeletons. An octopus and a slug are examples of mollusks without skeletons of any sort.) We generally call these exoskeletons shells.

But they are really different in other ways:

This is a mollusk.
Crustaceans are more closely related to insects and spiders than mollusks are. Like insects and spiders, crustaceans have segmented bodies and paired, jointed legs. They also have two pairs of antennae.
Mollusks, on the other hand, have soft, unsegmented bodies and no legs or antennae. (Don't confuse the two soft sensory tentacles on top of a snail's head with antennae—they're very different.)

Now...what about the hermit crab?

Note the hermit crab's
soft, unprotected abdomen,
which is curled up behind
its head and legs.
A hermit crab lives in a hard shell and has hard, jointed legs and antennae. Its soft abdomen is unprotected when it is not “wearing” its shell.

In other words, as its name suggests, a hermit crab is a crustacean.

I think a lot of people get confused about hermit crabs because they almost always choose to “wear” (live in and carry around) the discarded shells of mollusks. (Once in a blue moon you'll see a hermit crab living inside a chunk of wood or something like that.) 

So, if you ever see a beautiful shell from a sea snail (a mollusk) walking around on jointed legs – you can be sure that the creature inside is a hermit crab, not the mollusk that created the shell.

Normally, you will see a hermit crab inside
a mollusk's abandoned shell.
I am wondering if every single person in Ocean City, New Jersey, thinks that hermit crabs are mollusks? Surely not. I think maybe Martin stole the last name “Mollusk” when he stole the mollusk shell he lives in!

One of the best things ever!

Did you know that there are times when a large mollusk shell becomes available, and what is called a “vacancy chain” of hermit crabs forms. This is a line of crabs from largest to smallest. As the first hermit crab in line leaves its shell to take possession of the large new shell, the next hermit crab in line gives up its shell to move into the shell the first hermit crab just abandoned. Then the next one in line drops its shell and moves into the larger shell of the second, and so on all the way down the line.

Isn't that cool? I wonder how long this process takes?

Also on this date:

May Day

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment