Destined to Die

Jul 24, 2019

To the Editor:

We’ve all seen the colorful shells, painted with football team logos and cartoon characters. Thousands of kids will head home from their summer vacations at the beach with one in tow, a tiny trinket reminding them of sunny days and sand. But by next summer, nearly all of these beloved hermit crabs will have died.

Hermit crabs are complex animals that can live for over 30 years in their natural habitat, the tropical seashore. These social beings thrive in large colonies, often sleep piled up together, and collaborate in teams to find food.

Every single land hermit crab sold in souvenir shops ­– hundreds of thousands every year – has been caught from the wild, as these animals do not breed readily in captivity. They are often kept in cramped, filthy wire cages before purchase. A recent Plight of the Hermies investigative video exposed broken limbs, filthy conditions and even a dead hermit crab inside one souvenir store.

These crabs are sold to tourists in tiny, barren cages with some pebbles and a plastic palm tree. Deprived of everything natural to them, they are destined to die in mere months after struggling to breathe without proper humidity or succumbing from the poisonous paint on their shells.

It’s time for our souvenir shops to catch up with compassionate tourism of the 21st century and stop selling hermit crabs.

Laura Lee Cascada

Portsmouth, Va.


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