A video showing a tiny soldier crab using a plastic pen cap for a shell, filmed right here in Cayman, is shining the spotlight on the persistent problem of ocean plastics.
“If you really look at it, you see an animal that is supposed to live in nature with natural elements, and is forced to live in a plastic shell. It’s shocking, if you think about it, it’s shocking,” said Michele Zama of Vivo Alternative Restaurant of his unusual animal encounter.
Mr. Zama told Cayman 27 he was heartbroken to find the tiny soldier crab using a plastic pen cap for a shell.
“It was hard to see him struggle and try to carry himself around, it was like, it was looking like very uncomfortable in that shell,” said Mr. Zama.
As shocking as the soldier crab’s makeshift living arrangements may be for nature lovers, Plastic Free Cayman’s Claire Hughes said sights like these are likely to continue.
“It’s a big problem,” said Ms. Hughes. “When you see it, especially affecting local wildlife, I think you start to realize and you start to question can you start to look at the plastic in our every day lives, whether it is an at home or at her workplace or when we go out and have a straw or a cup, plastic is all around us.”
The Department of Environment told Cayman 27 soldier crabs typically seek out whelk shells for a home, but due to habitat loss and harvesting of whelk, the shells are becoming harder to find, leading crabs to take shelter in whatever is available including plastic.
Carolina Walesiak, who was there Monday (06 November) when the video was filmed, said the encounter has inspired her to think more about her own plastic use.
“Even things like plastic forks, substitute it, get a metal fork, keep it in your lunch bag and just continue to use it as opposed to continuously purchasing convenient things,” she said.
Mr. Zama said the next time he finds another plastic-dwelling crab at his restaurant, he’ll try to be better prepared.
“Now we are going to get a set of spare shells for the next emergency case,” he quipped.