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Hermit crabs in see-through glass shells at west Japan aquarium create Twitter buzz

A "crystal hermit crab," whose entire body is visible through a glass shell, is seen at the Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp in Wakayama Prefecture on Jan. 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Yukihiro Takeuchi)

TANABE, Wakayama -- A video of hermit crabs in transparent glass shells, posted on Twitter by a west Japan aquarium, is creating a buzz as their body movements -- usually concealed in ordinary shells -- are visible.

    The mauve-eyed hermit crabs in the video taken at the Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp in Wakayama Prefecture are each about 7 centimeters long, and they occupy approximately 5-cm-long glass shells. The 23-second video shows two hermit crabs moving their tiny abdominal appendages to replace the water inside the shells, among other movements.

    The video was uploaded on Jan. 8 and was apparently played more than 1 million times by the night of the same day. As of Jan. 20, it had earned more than 3.6 million views. Viewers' comments included, "I've always wanted to see this," and, "They look like shrimp."

    The aquarium has displayed such crustaceans in glass shells for about a decade, dubbing them "crystal hermit crabs." When one sheds its old skin and grows bigger, the glass shell is given to another hermit crab that can fit inside. Director Atsushi Hirai was surprised by the online response this time, because the aquarium had put up posts about the crabs on social media including Twitter several times in the past. "It wasn't novel, so I never expected it would create such a buzz," he said.

    Currently, only one hermit crab in a glass shell is on display, but apparently there are people who visit the aquarium to see it.

    Previously a female hermit crab in a glass shell could be seen holding eggs with her abdominal appendages. Among the videos posted by the aquarium so far, the one showing this crab apparently earned the most views.

    "These videos have had a huge effect, publicizing the aquarium to people not only at home but also overseas," Hirai said. "I hope this will be an opportunity for people to become interested in crustaceans, and that it will lead to an increase in visitor numbers."

    (Japanese original by Yukihiro Takeuchi, Tanabe Local Bureau)

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