3D printed shells for hermit crabs: Technology meets nature
Nature created everything in perfect balance. And man destroyed it in perfect disorder. The disharmony is here for us to see as nature is losing its sheen everywhere. The latest signs of imbalance are the hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs are the one of the gentlest creatures around. The term living in one’s shell fits hermit crabs the best. They have a very soft abdomen, which they protect from predators by wearing a left out shell of other creatures. Most frequently they use the shells of sea snails. They keep changing their shells as their body grows. It’s an absolute fascinating process in which bigger crabs leave their shells for the younger crabs to wear. However, over the years, the number of shells that are used by hermit crabs to cover themselves has gone low. This is because the sea animals are either killed or are left in uninhabitable conditions. As a consequence hermit crabs are often left with no option, but to take bottles, egg shells, and other squalid things to shelter themselves.
However, all is not lost. 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, is trying to create shells using 3D printers. The shells could be used as optional shelter for the hermit crabs. This project to find alternate shells for the hermit crabs is called Project Shelter. As a part of the effort, MakerBot has also set up a crab habitat in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles. The project is still in its initial phases.
Here is what you can do to help the cause. If you are creative and have access to MakerBot 3D printers, you can design your own shell and post it on Thingiverse ( http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:12784). To support the project, you can join it on Facebook. And to spread the word about the project, you can use Twitter by hash-tagging #SHELLTER.
It’s high time for us, being a part of the ecosystem, to understand that there are no two Earths. If this earth is dying, we too are dying with it. When we create an imbalance at any part of the world, we end up disturbing the whole ecosystem. These little harmless hermit crabs trying to find a shelter in a broken bottle cap is just a little sign of what will befall us, if we are not careful.