Go-To Shell: 7 Amazingly Resourceful Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crabs are nature’s most opportunistic recyclers: if an empty seashell can’t be found, an artificial shell-like object works as a temporary mobile home.

Hell O Dolly

That’s one way to getting a head in life, though you won’t be the “living doll” anyone’s expecting. Creepy though these images may be to us, the hermit crab inside this well-worn baby doll head is just doing what his species has always done: use an empty seashell or a shell-like hollow object to protect its body as it roams the world’s seashores and seafloors. When the crab grows too big for its “home”, it simply swaps it out for another, slightly larger one. Kudos to the crabs for saving its energy for other things. These images were taken at Haishenping Bay, Green Island, Taiwan on June 17th of 2015 by Guai Shou for the Taipei Times.

Humans are dumping waste plastic into the Earth’s oceans at an ever-increasing rate, and marine creatures of all shapes, sizes and species are suffering… well, not ALL of them. Hermit crabs are one of the only animals able to take advantage of the ongoing environmental catastrophe and they’re not picky about what we give them. Case in point: yet another co-opted doll’s head turned into a nightmare-inducing crab’s crib. One would hope the “Mommy!” voice chip thingie no longer works. Brrr!

Chair-Crab of the Boards

“Sub-optimal Shell”? Not necessarily, Flickr member Steven Brewer. Besides the very visible scourge of oceanic plastic pollution, the seas are gradually becoming more acidic as they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. That may sound good but it really isn’t… especially if you’re a shelled creature whose carbonate covering dissolves in acidic conditions. Maybe hermit crabs will luck out as the oceans continue to acidify AND accumulate plastic. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, as they say!

Child Safe Crab

Child-safe and crab-safe, as it happens. Photographer Jonathan Fife snapped the hermit crab above as it clambered over driftwood on a beach somewhere in Costa Rica. Even isolated areas of the world far from big polluting cities are suffering from the plastic plague as ocean currents carry flotsam and jetsam hundreds or thousands of miles from their sources. No doubt finding this cover from a long-gone plastic bottle or can “capped” off this particular hermit crab’s day.

Check out Spoiled Shore: Storms Trash Golden Sands Beach to see a shore desperately in need of hermit crabs!

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