Friday 6 December 2019

Plastic pollution has killed half a million hermit crabs, study says

By Kelsey VlamisBBC News

5th December 2019

An estimated 570,000 hermit crabs have been killed after being trapped in plastic debris, a new study has said.

The researchers said piles of plastic on beaches create physical barriers and "deadly traps" for the crabs.

The study looked at strawberry hermit crab populations on two remote tropical island locations.

The scientists say more research is needed into how plastic pollution is affecting wildlife populations worldwide, especially on land.

"The potential for plastics on beaches and in other terrestrial ecosystems to cause harm is under-acknowledged," said co-author Alex Bond, a senior curator in the department of life sciences at the Natural History Museum in London.

He says plastic in the ocean entangles and is ingested by wildlife, but on land it acts as a trap and a barrier to species going about their daily lives.

The researchers surveyed sites on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean and Henderson Island in the South Pacific. They say both locations are littered with millions of pieces of plastic.

They say crabs had crawled into plastic containers and were unable to get out, eventually dying. The containers had openings that allowed the crabs to enter, but were positioned with the opening facing an upward angle, so that the crabs would have difficulty crawling back out.


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