Meet Your Neighbours project – Okinawa, Japan

Founded in 2009, Meet Your Neighbours is a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. The project is dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps and enriching their lives in the process. These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.

There are seventy-five worldwide contributors to this powerful project. I am currently  the Japan contributor to this project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.  Below are some of my favorite images.

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Okinawan green tree frog

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Percnon planissimum – crab

Cherry blossom  -Mt Yaedake

Cherry blossom -Mt Yaedake

Crabs with beach trash homes

Crabs with beach trash homes

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko -MYN

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Scopimera ryukyuensis - Ryukyu Islands

Scopimera ryukyuensis – Ryukyu Islands

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Fern – Ryukyu Islands

 

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

American bullfrog - Izena Island

American bullfrog – Izena Island

Chinese cowrie

Chinese cowrie

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan mud lobster

Okinawan mud lobster

Sesarmops intermedius

Sesarmops intermedius

Air breathing marine slug

Air breathing marine slug

Unidentified earthworm -  MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Unidentified earthworm – MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Geograpsus grayi

Geograpsus grayi

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Have a great day !

Crabs With Beach Trash Homes – Okinawa, Japan

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Crabs with beach trash homes is a series I am currently working on. I photograph Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) that have begun to use beach trash as their home. The crabs are photographed in their nature environment and also on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. The images are used for environmental awareness and educational purposes.
Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

 Blueberry hermit crabs are commonly found on local beaches in Okinawa. Most crabs are blue but occasionally have color variations of purple, pink, orange and or gray. They prefer to have a seashell as a protective home but when no shell is available they adapt.

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) with a seashell

Before plastic caps filled our shorelines, hermit crabs adapted using tree nuts if no shells were available.

Hermit crab and tree nut

Hermit crab and tree nut

It’s becoming more common to find crabs with beach trash homes.  I have friends combing local beaches in search of more crabs for my series. While these are cute images, our trash is becoming a serious problem to the ocean and the animals that call the shoreline home. I often find hermit crabs using a variety of plastic caps from twist top pet bottles, laundry detergent containers, small propane tanks, sports water bottles and beauty supplies.

Possible reason why Blueberry crabs adapt with beach trash
  • Limited number of available shells causing them to make due with the best homes they can find. This is a good example of adaptive behavior.

Hermit crabs are very social animals and often fight over shells. Having a protective lightweight shell that covers the abdomen (soft parts of the animal) is crucial for survival.

Hermit crabs fighting

Hermit crabs fighting over prime real estate

 

The battle -

The battle -

A close-up of the sensitive abdomen (photographed using the MYN technique)

Naked hermit crab

Naked hermit crab

Below are some of my favorite images photographed on a portable field studio board (MYN Technique). The crabs are safely placed on a white studio board, photographed and released back into the natural environment (MYN Technique).

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) with cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic tube

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic top cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)
Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic top cap
Blueberry hermit crab- Ryukyu Islands.

Blueberry hermit crab- Ryukyu Islands

Blueberry hermit crab

Blueberry hermit crab – Okuma, Okinawa

It’s important to photograph the hermit crabs in their natural habitat.  I prefer to photograph them using a wide angle lens to achieve a unique perspective.

Meet zori -Wide angle macro

Meet zori -Wide angle macro

Hermit crab- Plastic pollution

Hermit crab- Plastic pollution

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab,  Wide angle macro

Meet scoop- Quaker

Meet scoop- Quaker

Meet shady

Meet shady – Worldwide trash problem

Hermit crab in a glass bottle

Hermit crab in a glass bottle- Yomitan, Okinawa.

Meet cassette -CWBTH

Meet cassette -CWBTH

Airplane -Senaga Island ,Okinawa

Airplane -Senaga Island ,Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Land hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Meet sparky- using a plastic cap from a cassette gas tank

Meet sparky- using a plastic cap from a cassette gas tank

Energy drink home- Trash homes

Energy drink home- Trash homes

 

The rock climber -Okinawa

The rock climber -Northern Okinawa

Sunset - Yomitan ,Okinawa

Sunset Time – Yomitan ,Okinawa

Beach pollution- CWBTH

Beach pollution- CWBTH

Tree climber-

Tree climber-

Plastic pollution - beach trash

Plastic pollution – beach trash

Crabs and plastic

Crabs and plastic – WAM

Got Meds -Beach trash

Got Meds -Beach trash

Get off the road jack -

Get off the road jack -

Crabs and plastic -Onna Village

Crabs and plastic -Onna Village

I also photograph the hermit crabs using a dedicated macro lens. I mainly use the Canon 60 mm or 100 mm macro lens to concentrate on the subject. These crabs are fairly small and  it’s important to have a lens that will focus close and deliver high quality sharpness.

Meet Edison- Gobe700

Meet Edison- Gobe700

Meet hand -toy end cap

Meet hand -toy end cap

Beach trash -hermit crabs

Beach trash -hermit crabs

 

erry hermit crab, Okuma-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Okuma-Okinawa

Laundry detergent cap - Northern Okinawa

Laundry detergent cap – Northern Okinawa

Cassette gas tank cap - bbq beach party

Cassette gas tank cap – bbq beach party

White cap on drift wood

White cap on drift wood

Meet scoop-

Meet scoop-

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

 

Meet Edison -Gobe700

Meet Edison -Gobe700

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

erry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

School project  ” Crabs with beach trash homes ”  My family and I collected trash on a  local beach in Onna village. This is just a small portion of our beach trash findings.  The kids did a great job creating a project with impact.

Kirana's school project

Kirana’s school project

Kyle's school project

Kyle’s school project

Behind the scenes photograph  ” Crabs with beach trash homes ” I have documented over sixty crabs with beach trash homes. If you would like to see more images check out my Flickr account.

Shawn Miller - Crabs with beach trash homes.  photographed by David Orr

Shawn Miller – Crabs with beach trash homes.    Photographed by David Orr

 

June 10th 2010 was my first experience seeing a hermit crab with a trash home.  
 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Land hermit crab  climbing a tree

My series ” Crabs with beach trash homes ” has been featured on Petapixel, Business Insider, National Geographic (Belgium), Atlas Obscura, Global citizen, Plethorist, Daily telegraph, Littlethings, 15minutenews, Roaring earth, Hyperdojo, News.com.au, Follownews, Neotorama, Boingboing, Insider, Additivist, Now100fm and varies Scientific websites.

Our trash is becoming a serous problem on our shorelines! Let’s keep our shorelines clean!

Have a great day!