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June 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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That Deadly Underwater Debris:

not only unsightly, but itís a killer

from the June, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Not long ago, Undercurrent reported on Atsushi Sogabe, a researcher in Japan, who noticed that marine hermit crabs seemed to be trapped by tires. He then did a comprehensive study that concluded absolutely that hermit crabs can be trapped inside tires.

My understanding of tires-as-traps took longer than it should have. I moved to Bonaire in 1980 and started my dive guiding business, Touch the Sea, soon thereafter. On one dive I noticed, inside a tire lying flat on the sand, a hermit crab with hitchhiking anemones, uncommon here on Bonaire; I picked up Shermy the hermy carefully, so we could see him (or her) and his (or her; you get it) anemones more clearly, then of course set him back where he came from, inside the tire. The next afternoon I looked into the tire, and the hermit crab was still there, very convenient for a dive guide! In my orientation, I would explain that Shermy the hermy "lived in the tire." This went on until the next night dive, when, with my light, I looked carefully inside the tire and saw:

Shermy and his hitchhiker anemones, and

a few other hermit crabs, and

several empty snail shells of the type hermit crabs use, and

pieces of broken hermit crab shells, and

no algae growing on the bottom of the inside of the tire....

A moment later I realized the turtle wasn't resting. It was struggling to get out of the tire.

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