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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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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.