Caught in plastic waste, more than half a million hermit crabs have been killed by plastic pollution on two remote islands, a new study by the University of Tasmania revealed.
The research teams estimated that approximately 508,000 of the crustaceans were killed in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean and about 61,000 on the Henderson Island in the Pacific after being trapped in debris like plastic bottles, which researchers say They served as deadly traps, CNN reported.
Hermit crabs do not have their own shells and use empty shells or hollow objects as protection.
The study “The entrapment of plastic waste endangers hermit crabs” was led by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) of the University of Tasmania and has been published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
The study found that plastic containers such as drinks and industrial bottles caught the crabs that led to their eventual death.
“When we were inspecting debris on the islands, I was surprised by the amount of open plastic containers containing hermit crabs, alive and dead,” said Dr. Jennifer Lavers, who led the study.
“The overall catch rates of hermit crab were extremely high in both Henderson and Cocos, with almost 61,000 (2,447 crabs / m2) and 508,000 crabs (1,117 crabs / m2) caught, respectively. Although the overall mortality in Henderson is lower, the area of the beach is much smaller than that of Cocos, and both the rate and severity of entrapment and mortality are much higher, according to the study.
He also said that the death of crabs due to plastic pollution on a global scale would impact ecosystems.
“Hermit crabs play a crucial role in the health of tropical environments by aerating and fertilizing the soil, and by dispersing the seeds and removing debris, as well as being a key part of the marine ecosystem. Their population degradation is more than a risk to the natural environment., “she said.
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