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Half a million hermit crabs killed by plastic pollution
"It is inevitable that these creatures will interact with and be affected by plastic pollution" - Dr Jennifer Lavers.

Plastic debris is creating physical barriers and deadly traps

More than half a million hermit crabs have been killed after becoming trapped in plastic debris, according to new research.


The study involving scientists at the University of Tasmania revealed that over 560,000 hermit crabs have been killed on the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean and the Henderson Islands in the Pacific.

Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the study built on previous research which revealed that the islands are littered with millions of pieces of plastic. Researchers say the plastic is creating physical barriers and a series of traps that are potentially deadly for the crabs.


Dr Jennifer Lavers from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies said that while much attention has been given to plastic in oceans, little research has been conducted into the risk that marine pollution poses to wildlife.

“When we were surveying debris on the islands, I was struck by how many open plastic containers contained hermit crabs, both dead and alive,” Dr Lavers said. “These results are shocking but perhaps not surprising, because beaches and the vegetation that fringes them are frequented by a wide range of wildlife. 


“It is inevitable that these creatures will interact with and be affected by plastic pollution, although ours is one of the first studies to provide quantitative data on such impacts.”


Dr Lavers added that marine pollution is a global problem, and that equivalent hermit crab deaths on a worldwide scale would have important implications for the ecosystem.

“Hermit crabs play a crucial role in the health of tropical environments by aerating and fertilising soil, and dispersing seeds and removing detritus, as well being a key part of the marine ecosystem,” she continued.

“Their population degradation is more than just a risk to the natural environment. They are also an important part of marine ecosystems that humans rely on for fishing, recreation and tourism, so ultimately the impacts may also be economic.

“Our study is the first to document the mortality of hermit crabs due to beach debris, but the broader global picture remains unknown. However, it is likely that the mortality of hermit crabs across the world’s beaches is substantial, and further investigation is required to inform a broader understanding of the scale and implications of their loss.”

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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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News Shorts
New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.