One Man’s Trash is a Hermit Crab’s Home

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

Beach pollution is a real problem in Okinawa, Japan, but the blueberry hermit crabs living there are finding ways to thrive amidst — and inside — the trash.

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

In 2010, photographer Shawn Miller spotted a hermit crab using a bottle cap as a shell. Later, he found the crabs using discarded measuring cups and laundry detergent caps. He was understandably fascinated by this behavior, and the idea for a photography project was born.

Shaun Miller/Flickr
Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

Like all hermit crab species, blueberry hermit crabs (known by the scientific name Coenobita purpureus) need a shell to protect their soft bodies from injury and predators. As the crabs grow in size, they “trade up” to a larger shell. In Okinawa, that may mean trading a soda bottle cap for a laundry detergent lid.

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

Miller returned to the beach many times in search of crabs to photograph, determined to show the world the effect pollution is having on even the tiniest of species.

While the hermit crabs are adapting to an environment that’s been drastically affected by humans, the presence of so much trash is indicative of a larger issue. Discarded plastics are responsible for killing thousands of sea- and shoreline-dwelling animals every year.

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

“Over the years”, Miller told Atlas Obscura, “I continued to find more crabs with trash homes. I noticed more trash piling up on our shorelines [while] searching for hermit crabs and realized it was a serious problem. I wanted to bring awareness to our pollution problems on our shorelines.”

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

A serious problem indeed: It is estimated that on average, 46,000 pieces of plastic are swirling in every square mile of our oceans. What’s more, at least one million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic annually.

You can reduce the amount of plastic entering our oceans by avoiding single-use plastics like straws, cups and bottles; and by bringing reusable bags on your shopping trips.

Image: Okinawa Nature Photography/Shawn Miller

Follow photographer Shawn Miller’s work on Flickr and on Instagram for more fascinating images! You can also visit his website here.

The Latest

Giant Beached Oarfish Predict Earthquakes

Giant Beached Oarfish Predict Earthquakes

Reports of oarfish turning up on shore have historically preceded earthquakes — leaving scientists pondering how some animals may be able to forecast the future. Regalecus glesne, or the oarfish, is the longest bony...

Lonely Monkey Tries to Mate with Deer

Lonely Monkey Tries to Mate with Deer

This monkey is a real swinger, and researchers have the sex tape to prove it. The Japanese macaque was recorded trying to mount not one, but two Sika deer, and even chased away...

Spider-Eating Wasp Species Build Homes with Ant Corpses

Spider-Eating Wasp Species Build Homes with Ant Corpses

A new species of spider wasp was discovered killing live ants and collecting the bodies for home security. Deuteragenia ossarium is a recently analyzed species of spider wasp that was found hiding skeletons...

100,000 Shark Fins Discovered on Rooftops in Hong Kong

100,000 Shark Fins Discovered on Rooftops in Hong Kong

A director for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recently reported finding more than 100,000 shark fins drying on a rooftop in Shanghai.  Southeast Asia has become the frontrunner for capturing sharks and removing...

Scientists Discovered Why Elephants Don’t Get Cancer

Scientists Discovered Why Elephants Don’t Get Cancer

Image: Wikipedia While theoretically larger animals with more cells should be more predisposed to cancer — research shows elephants are hardly ever affected. Cancer is created when mistakes are made in cell reproduction,...

Skinks Defend Themselves by Sticking Their Tongues Out

Skinks Defend Themselves by Sticking Their Tongues Out

These unique reptiles open gaping pink mouths and wag their bright blue tongues to scare away predators — often with astounding success. Blue tongued skinks are native to Australia and persist primarily in...

ABOUT US

Roaring Earth brings you thrilling, unique and thought-provoking stories about the natural world. From the wildest places on earth, to extraordinary encounters in our own backyards. Whether shot by a world-renowned filmmaker with the most exclusive camera equipment or by you on your smart phone or trail cam, we are sharing stories that are rarely covered and giving a voice to to the wildlife enthusiast within us all.

The Latest

More Roaring Videos