An environmental group in Pingtung County is staging two events this month to ask the public to help distribute leftover shells they have collected for homeless hermit crabs.
The program, which will take place tomorrow and on Monday, will distribute about 1,000 shells donated to the Houwan Preservation Association since late last month, when the group asked people to send them leftover shells from seafood restaurants, association director Yang Mei-yun (楊美雲) said.
“The event will play a significant role in our environmental education,” Yang said, adding that many schools have registered for the event.
Hermit crabs lack a carapace, so they scavenge empty shells and repeatedly change shells as they grow to protect their vulnerable bodies.
Yang started the shell campaign in the wake of a diminishing number of hermit crabs in the area because they are being illegally trapped and sold as pets, while shell collectors have scavenged many of the naturally occurring empty shells on which the crabs depend.
The ones that survive largely live in discarded shells unwanted by shell collectors, such as those of giant African land snails, which have fragile shells unsuitable for the crabs, while others have even been seen using unexpected items in place of shells, such as cans and plastic bottle caps, she said.
Yang launched a Facebook campaign last month, asking people to donate leftover seashells from restaurants and home cooking.