When you think of hermit crabs, you probably imagine cute little buddies with painted shells that live in an 8-year-old’s bedroom. As they grow, they discard their old shells and find new ones to live in. Thanks to humans, sometimes these little crabs can live in some pretty strange pieces of garbage-turned-shell. Instead of an adorable little crab in an adorable little shell…Someone came across a coconut crab (the largest species of hermit crab) in the Pacific Pitcairn Islands sporting this terrifying shell:The terrifying spectacle instantly went viral, and people who have hermit crabs as pets wanted to give it a try. Using strange objects as homes isn’t all that uncommon for the crabs, especially with the amount of debris and garbage that end up on beaches around the world.
People who live near beaches hoped that the image would help spread an important message to tourists about the ecosystem of beaches. When hermit crabs can’t find enough shells, they resort to using trash or dangerous objects as homes, damaging the environment and putting them in more danger. They urge tourists not to collect shells when they visit a beach – and if they must take one, to eventually return it.