570,000 hermit crabs die from plastic rubbishOver half a million tiny hermit crabs have been trapped and killed by the massive amounts of plastic debris on two remote island chains in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The tragic mass mortality event has researchers fearing the worst on a global scale. The discovery of 570,000 dead hermit crabs in the Indian Ocean’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Pacific Ocean’s Henderson Island is just the latest sign of the growing crisis of plastic waste polluting our oceans, posing a grave threat to wildlife. Other heart wrenching casualties include scenes of straws stuck in the nostrils of turtles, sperm whales found with pounds of plastic garbage in their guts and now the latest to join the casualty because of the nonchalance exhibited by humans are hermit crabs, unable to get out of the plastic bottles once they find their way inside, hoping for a tasty treat. Hermit crabs are not born with their own shells, searching for new shells each time they outgrow one. When one of them dies in a plastic container, it emits a smell to tell others that a shell is available, unknowingly luring more creatures to their untimely deaths, creating a “gruesome chain reaction.”
How Does This Affect Us?
The blow to hermit crabs could be the start of a nasty chain reaction impacting marine life.
Crabs play crucial roles in tropical ecosystems, aiding in forest growth and development through the soil. Reductions in crabs may significantly impact plant expansion, scientists said.
In addition to forming an important part of maritime food chains, the scavengers also help clean island beaches and tropical forests while breaking down organic matter, spreading nutrients by aerating and fertilizing the soil, and dispersing seeds.
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