Man Took Action After Finding Hermit Crabs Living in Plastic Trash

Shawn Miller started Make the Switch 4 Nature (MTS4N), a crab conservation project, to give hermit crabs the homes they deserve—actual seashells. Unfortunately, if a hermit crab can’t find a suitable shell, it’ll use whatever it can find, including plastic garbage humans leave behind at the beach.

Plastic waste is hazardous for marine life, and while a plastic cap or other piece of garbage is better than no protection at all, the crabs prefer (and deserve) something better. That’s why Miller and other friends of MTS4N in Okinawa, Japan carry around a handful of donated shells to offer hermit crabs they find living in trash.

Once offered some options, a hermit crab will ditch its trash house and select a proper shell, usually within a half-hour or less, depending on how picky it decides to be. Since hermit crabs’ bodies don’t make their own shells, they must use the empty shells of other animals to protect their soft bodies from predators. As they grow, hermit crabs “trade up,” swapping smaller shells for larger ones.

Miller says many people don’t realize they’re taking away a potential home for a hermit crab when they collect shells along the beach. In the absence of shells, it makes sense that these animals will look for an alternative—something that’s abundant on the beach. Sadly, that’s often plastic trash.

Learn more about the project in this Instagram collab video and by following MTS4N on social media:

Did you know that collecting seashells could rob a hermit crab of a home?

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