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This is the equivalent of finding a ten pound note to me – albeit one that you can’t spend, and can’t keep either. Alright, bad analogy.


Ever since I can remember rock pools have fascinated and attracted me. Those areas that trap a bit of sea water and contain so much life, a tiny little microcosm of the ocean. Of particular interest are the rocks themselves, because upon lifting them up they generally reveal a bounty of treasures: crabs.

I bloody love crabs.

Not eating them though, if I’m honest, never really developed a taste for them. But seeing them revealed, under a rock, and then scuttling away or – even more entertaining – seeing me as a threat and holding their claws aloft (just like the crabs in Finding Nemo).

This appetite for uncovering these crustacean critters has spread to my kids, and especially to my son.

I’ve always known he loved these crab-hunting trips, but it really came to the fore during our recent trip to Ile d’Oleron, a beautiful island off the west coast of France. We spent a lovely week there – well, after the first three days of rain had buggered off anyway – and pretty much from day one my son was pestering me to take him crab hunting.

I love when you find something that you have in common with your kids and, if I’m being honest, I was probably having more fun than they were. I was definitely having more fun than my partner – their mum – anyway. As evidenced on the many occasions when she would sigh ‘Come on! It’s tea time, let’s go!’ and we would slowly, slowly head back towards her, stopping to collect shells, or look under more rocks as her face got longer, and longer.

We didn’t just discover crabs though, my son and I, as the following photographs show. I won’t even try to pretend to know what some of these things are, they just look bizarre. I will tag them with what I think they are but, as I’m no marine biologist, apologies if I’m wrong.


I can say with absolute certainty that this is a crab.



Claws aloft, ready to bring the pain if I put my fingers near those pincers (I didn’t)



An incredibly brave/stupid crab here. Hiding under an excitable 7-year-old’s shoe is not a great idea. Happy to say that both crab and shoe are safe and sound*. (*unless a seagull ate it after we left… the crab I mean, not the shoe, nobody would eat my son’s shoes).



This one is a tad smarter, he knows I won’t hurt him, look at how comfy he looks, his face just screams ‘I have found my haven! Hurrah!’. Also he’s definitely a crab. 



This one isn’t too clear but that is actually a hermit crab on the rock, in the centre. First one my son had ever seen and, of course, he wanted to keep him. You may notice the lump of slime to the right, but that’s no ordinary lump of slime because it’s… 



….a sea slug thingy!!! Yes I can say with absolute vagueness that this is definitely some kind of slug-like sea creature. I thought it was just some inanimate slime at first till it started moving. Funnily enough, my son did NOT want to keep him.



The underneath of a limpet (I think), not something we see every day, but they are by far the most popular shell that the kids find on their shell hunts. 



Here we see, floating amongst the sea snails, a (drum roll)….possible small jellyfish, or something like that. Definitely not just a piece of floating tissue paper, or a large amount of phlegm, which was my (and your) first thought.