Environmental News: Week 12

“Half a million crabs killed by plastic debris on remote islands”

This article discusses a study, the first of it’s kind, to research and document the mortality of hermit crabs due to beach debris, specifically plastic. This study found that on the Cocos island, 500,000 hermit crabs died from being trapped in plastic and 60,000 on Henderson island. Dr. Lavers, who lead the study said, “These results are shocking but perhaps not surprising, because beaches and the vegetation that fringes them are frequented by a wide range of wildlife. It is inevitable that these creatures will interact with and be affected by plastic pollution, although ours is one of the first studies to provide quantitative data on such impacts.” Some of the data they collected included how many plastic containers there were, how many were open, how many were positioned in a way that could trap crabs, and how many actually contained trapped crabs. Hermit crabs play an integral role in the ecosystem, they  fertilize soil, disperse seeds, remove detritus, and act as a food source to other animals. Because of this, they have a large impact on the health of tropic environments. Dr.Lavers concluded by saying “It is likely that the mortality of hermit crabs across the world’s beaches is substantial, and further investigation is required to inform a broader understanding of the scale and implications of their loss.”


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