Hilton Head, Day 4
At Hilton Head we walked the beach at least once a day, and always at sunset. We were constantly on the lookout for shells (and, in Julie's case, shark teeth - unsuccessfully). The shells we found were small (few were wider than a nickel) which made us quite excited to come across the hand-sized conch shell shown above. A shell this big would normally have been quickly grabbed earlier by some other beachcomber, but when we were there it was close to sunset with few other people around, and the high tide was receding, so the shell hasn't been exposed for long. We eagerly picked it up and brought it back to our condo.
When we got back, Maddie shook the shell several times and, hearing a rattling sound, insisted there was a critter (likely dead) inside. Julie and I scoffed at the idea, and Julie held the shell under the streaming faucet to rinse out the sand. Imagine our shock, then, to see claws suddenly emerge! Julie screamed and dropped the shell, and a hermit crab came halfway out before disappearing back inside. After a brief outburst of yells and screams all around, we calmed down again and decided that we obviously couldn't keep the crab, and had to return it to the ocean. Maddie and I walked back to the beach in almost total darkness, and she tossed the shell (with crab still inside) as far as she could into the surf. That done, we lingered to enjoy the sight of the very last traces of sunset, as shown in the second photograph above.
As we walked back, I said it was too bad that we couldn't keep such a great shell. Maddie replied that keeping the shell wasn't nearly as important as saving the crab and returning it to its home. Great kid, huh?