Crustaceans are the collective term to lobsters (they are blue in the water), crabs (who communicate by waving and drumming to each other), scampi (Italian for ‘small lobster’), barnacles and sand hoppers.
Go zero waste for crabs, and you will help to protect these adorable little creatures. Crabs live worldwide in our oceans, but over half a million crabs have died through plastic waste alone. Researchers at University of Tasmania and Natural History Museum in London, found that tiny hermit crabs were becoming trapped in plastic bottles, on two islands (one in the Indian Ocean, one in the Pacific).
Hermit crabs don’t have a shell, so they send out signals to each other, when a shell becomes available. More crabs climb in and die. So while they search out rotting plants and animals to eat, they often come across plastic debris and try to turn it into a shell, but can’t get back out. They die from dehydration or sun exposure, and the other hermit crabs get the scent and try to use the plastic bottle as a shell too.
Leave the Crabs Be
Crabbing is a popular seaside pastime, but does the crab agree? Not likely, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. They say that the crabs (lured by bacon) often end up getting injured, as too many are put in buckets. It’s no good ‘releasing them to the sea’ if they spend the rest of their lives in pain, with missing limbs. Many crabs end up fighting, getting too hot or even suffocating in the buckets.
There are better ways to teach children about wildlife. But if you do take your child crabbing, then have no more than three crabs in a bucket, fill the water frequently and keep the bucket somewhere cool, until release. Use a small fishing net to transfer them to the bucket then return them back to the sea within 10 minutes (find a safe low place to gently replace in the sea, don’t drop them from above). Crabs may still nip with their pincers. But that’s the price you pay for taking a private creature out of water, just so that your child can observe a frightened and probably shocked creature.
On beach surveys, it was found that each found bottle contained an average 9 hermit crabs. These little guys who are ‘the recycling trucks of the shore’ constantly eating up dead plants and animals, are now trapped in plastic bottles the world over. One marine biologist calls them ‘beach vacuum cleaners’ that are so important to our ecosystems.
- Read your child Clem & Crab. This is a nice story about a kind child, who rescues and becomes friends with a crab, who she finds with a claw trapped in a plastic bag.
- Fishing for scampi also by-catches other creatures like sea turtles and dolphins. If you eat it, Marine Conservation Society says only buy from companies that guarantee they use no by-catch methods.
- Read the open letter by Crustacean Compassion, asking government to recognise crustaceans as sentient beings. They want better welfare in tanks and certificates of competence for chefs.
- Pick up your litter. Hermit crabs often use other shells to make their homes. But they often mistake tin cans and other debris for shells, and then get stuck in them. Over half a million hermit crabs have been killed by plastic litter, it’s estimated by marine biologists.
Plant-Based Crab, Lobster & Scampi
- Bonsan Jackfruit ‘Crab Cakes’
- Vegan Lobster Rolls
- Vegan Crab Cakes
- Vegan Scampi in Lemon Wine Sauce
- Vegan Prawn Cocktail
How to Help Crustaceans & Molluscs
- Live simply and as plastic-free as possible.
- Don’t litter the beach, take it with you. If you smoke, use a Boodi personal ashtray.
- Use a natural sunscreen, without nano-particles/
- Use biodegradable beauty & cleaning products (use the search box on this site to find good brands)
- Use a microplastic catch bag.
- Avoid home driveway car washes (which can cause mini oil-spills).
- Wear biodegradable flip-flops.
- Don’t release balloons or fire lanterns. These explode and fall to sea or land.
- See tips to be a greener boater.
- Report stranded or injured creatures to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (the coastguard and RSPCA can put you through) and The Wildlife Trusts.
The Oddly Fabulous Octopus
Otherwise known as ‘squid’, the octopus (the plural is octopuses, even though it sounds like bad grammar) is one of earth’s most fascinating creatures and a mollusc, rather than a crustacean. They can bounce objects (despite having no bones), change colour (they have blue blood), squirt ink and have three hearts. They even often outwit fishermen. The only time alas you see them much is in tanks, as people eat them (sometimes alive). They mostly crawl because although they have three hearts, it stops beating when they swim, so makes them exhausted.
It’s a myth that oysters and shellfish don’t feel pain. Even after an octopus arm has been severed, it still jerks away in pain if pinched. Pro-vivisectionists have even acknowledged that they feel pain.
- Other Minds takes us into the oceans, to see what can we learn from creatures we never see. The octopus is the closest we will ever get to an intelligent alien, so what can we learn from this amazing creature? Peter Godfrey-Smith (a science philosopher and scuba diver) explores how this solitary creature with little social life, become so smart. What’s it like to have tentacles so packed with neurons, they are virtually think for themselves?
- The Soul of An Octopus tells of Sy Montgomery’s fascination with this deeply intelligent species. They are able to bounce objects in the ocean, and love to run around the floor on eight arms. It has a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth! They can also change colour and are now ranked in intelligence with dogs, birds and chimpanzees.
Unfortunately, some people now keep octopuses in labs. But what was noticed was that one cuttlefish eventually got used to the people that were often around. He would ‘reliable squirt streams of water at all new visitors’, showing that he knew the difference. Some wild octopuses even ‘walk’ from rockpool to rockpool’, as well as swim and live underwater. They are so intelligent they have been known to unscrew a lid from a jar. One even outwitted a crab fisherman. He laid his trap and the octopus found it, got inside and took off with the caught crabs, for his own dinner instead.
Vegan Squid & Calamari
As mentioned above, not only are these beautiful creatures eaten, but sometimes while alive. Here are some plant-based alternatives (keep away from pets as they contain mushrooms).
- Vegan Calamari (Planticize) is a wonderful recipe by an American chef who lives in Sweden. Made with oyster mushrooms, they are paired with a batter and marinara sauce, with vegan garlic mayo.
- Nature’s Charm Vegan Calamari is sold in a tin. Made from mushrooms, capers, seaweed and salt, this can be steamed, grilled, baked or battered.
How Else To Help an Octopus
- Don’t drop litter, keep oceans clean.
- Join Crustacean Compassion in their work to help all creatures. Although they focus mostly on crabs and lobsters, they also support laws to stop people eating live octopus and better welfare for other cephalopods (octopus, squid/calamari and cuttlefish). They want them included in their own campaign to have all creatures recognise as sentient beings (as happens in many countries abroad) so people can’t boil them alive, nor keep them live in fish tanks.