Crabs wear plastic shells – level 3

30-01-2024 15:00

Scientists have observed a new behavior in terrestrial hermit crabs globally – they are choosing plastic shells over natural ones for protection.

Researchers identified 386 crabs using artificial shells, primarily plastic caps, from images posted online. This behavior was found in 10 out of 16 hermit crab species across the Earth’s tropical coasts. Possible reasons for this shift include sexual signaling, the lightness of artificial shells, odor cues, and camouflage in polluted environments. The impact of this behavior on hermit crab evolution requires further investigation.

Plastic is a major marine waste and it influences wildlife negatively. Notably, wildlife photographer Shawn Miller’s images were crucial in highlighting this phenomenon. A campaign advocates for hermit crab conservation, discouraging the removal of natural shells from beaches and emphasizing the global issue of plastic waste, which may be addressed by a UN agreement later this year.

Difficult words: cue (a signal), camouflage (using materials, colors, or light to make it difficult to be seen), conservation (protection).

You can watch the video news lower on this page.

How has the shift towards using plastic shells affected hermit crab evolution and what efforts are being made to address this issue?


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