Here’s the real story behind this see-through hermit crab
This awesome photo of a hermit crab in a glass shell has been going around the internet, attached to a story about New Zealand scientists using the glass shells to lay bare the crabs’ inner workings. Which leaves out the coolest part: You can buy one for yourself. (I mean, for your own hermit crabs. You’d never fit in one.)
The photo was originally taken by Frank Greenaway for Dorling Kindersley. There’s also another of the crab about to move into the glass shell:
The New Zealand Marine Studies Center and Aquarium did indeed provide glass shells for some of their little guys in 2009. So did the Blue Reef Aquarium in the U.K., five years earlier. Blue Reef custom-ordered their shells from a local glassblower, and it’s not clear where the New Zealand aquarium got theirs — but if you’ve got some crabs with Cinderella dreams, you can get your own glass shells from Vermont glassblower Robert DuGrenier. He’s even got some with racing stripes, marbling, or gold embellishment.
Here’s a video of a crab making himself at home in one of DuGrenier’s shells:
These are hardly the first hermit crabs to spend some time in a non-shell shell — check out this guy in his LEGO house!
If nothing else is available, they’ll even move into bottle caps or other bits of trash, which is just sad. A temporary stay in a glass house is much preferable, and won’t hurt them, as long as they don’t throw stones.
UPDATE: Via David Winter, here’s the actual New Zealand Marine Studies Center hermit crab. (You’ll note that it’s different from the one in the Dorling Kindersley photo.) The shell was commissioned from Anne Ryan, of the “glassblowing unit” of the University of Otago’s division of sciences. Yes, they have a glassblowing unit! It’s an workshop devoted to making scientific glassware and/or crab houses! This is fairly amazing.