Hermit crabs are essential parts of coastal ecosystems. They carry seeds around, eat and are eaten by a wide variety of other sea people, and, well, have as much a right to life as we do. Their loss would endanger many other species, including animals people eat.
They spend most of their time finding empty shells to hide in. As they grow, they need to swap a smaller home for a larger one, and this is the basis of their social organisation. I’ve seen fun pic sequences of their exchanges.
Now they are in trouble, thanks to rubbish. They mistake cups, wide-neck bottles and the like for shells. They can get in, but often the slippery surface won’t let them out, so they die of starvation. The smell of a dead crab is a signal of an empty home, so one item of trash can kill a long succession of the little critters.
This is reported in a brand new research paper by Lavers et al.
Beach clean-ups will help a miniscule proportion of hermit crabs. Not allowing the trash to get into the ocean will help a little more. Not buying them is a bigger step in the right direction, and that’s something you can do, any time, everywhere.
Not making them in the first place would work the best, but, in the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, BUSINESS IS BUSINESS, AND BUSINESS MUST GROW, REGARDLESS OF CRUMMIES IN TUMMIES, YOU KNOW!