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Earth Science Technology

3D Printers To Save Hermit Crabs 107

Shareable writes "Makerbot just launched Project Shellter, which will leverage the Makerbot community's network of 5,000 3D printers to make shells for hermit crabs — which face a species-threatening, man-made shell shortage (they inhabit abandoned shells)."
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3D Printers To Save Hermit Crabs

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  • Real problem? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @09:37AM (#37809190) Homepage

    Is there any evidence that this is a real problem, as opposed to an art project, PR stunt, or whatever?

  • Re:From TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TexNex ( 513254 ) <nexxius&gmail,com> on Sunday October 23, 2011 @09:48AM (#37809276) Homepage

    Hermit crabs will live in anything they can get their ass into and fully hide under. I've seen them "wear" bottle tops and in one case a plastic cup.

  • Re:From TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2011 @10:02AM (#37809334)

    This is true I had a pet hermit crab when I was younger and we couldn't find a shell big enough for it so I put one of my plastic toys in the cage with it and it took up residence in it the same day. Although, I have to admit that unless these crabs are in the wild it doesn't really matter because hermit crabs do not require a shell to survive it is only used for pretection from preditors. My hermit crab went without a shell for quite a while before I put a toy in the tank with it.

  • Re:Real problem? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2011 @10:22AM (#37809422)
    Bre Pettis is the PT Barnum of the geek crowd. That self-serving scam artist and his rickety "3D printer" are a real modern-day "pet rock", except for the price. Do people have any idea what REAL machine tools they can get for 1300$, let alone 2600$ for the "fully assembled" Makerbot? WHY are geeks so gullible?

    If people are so concerned about hermit crabs, how many real shells can you buy for 1300$? How do people usually make habitats for hermit crabs?


    But your 10 million$ sure does. Why can't I be this cold-blooded and exploit the geek naivete and enthusiasm, and apparently bottomless wallet?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2011 @10:49AM (#37809558)

    Plastic is an organic compound and will break down a lot faster than the mineral structure of "natural" seashells.
    What we consider to be unpleasant but non-toxic waste does not necessarily have to be bad for the sea-life.
    For example a car-wreck dumped into the ocean can make a great substitute for coral reefs.

  • Re:Real problem? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by steelframe ( 590694 ) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @10:49AM (#37809562)
    When my wife and I were in Fiji years ago she would set the nice shells she had collected that day out on the deck to dry out. In the morning the shells was scattered and the best were always gone. It was like a crab used car lot where they drive in with a Pinto and leave with a Porsche. A one stop shop that I'm sure the crabs appreciated.
  • Re:Real problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @02:21PM (#37810908)
    This project is just so completely naive and asinine, it's hard to even know where to start. From their site:

    "With a shell shortage, hermit crabs around the world are being forced to stick their butts into bottles, shotgun shells, and anything else they can find. This is not acceptable. As a community, we can reach out to this vulnerable species..."

    First of all, scarcity of a resource- in this case, shelters- is just how things operate in nature. It's not a sign that something is necessarily wrong, because in a healthy ecosystem, there's never enough to go around for everyone. Trees in the rainforest compete with each other for light, jackals on the savannah fight each other for scraps of food, elephant seals fight each other for mates. Using the same logic as these guys, you would conclude that we should put grow-lights in the Amazonian rainforest to help the poor, light-starved seedlings on the forest floor. We should be flying tons of steaks to Africa to feed the jackals so they don't have to fight each other. We should run dating services for the seals.

    Second of all, referring to hermit crabs as "this species" is a clear red flag that these people don't even have the slightest clue about marine biology, or conservation, or science in general. Hermit crabs aren't a species, they're a collection of over a thousand species, ranging from the little things you see in the pet store to giant palm-tree-climbing coconut crabs three feet across. Some of them use shells, some live in sponges instead of shells, some (like coconut crabs) only use a shell for part of their life cycle, and a number (including the giant Alaska King Crab) gave up on the whole snail shell thing millions of years ago. The point is, it might make sense to talk about saving certain species of hermit crab that are threatened, but to say that hermit crabs as a whole need saving just shows an ignorance of the science.

    Finally, I can't actually find any reference to hermit crabs being endangered or listed on the IUCN redlist. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there are endangered species of hermit crabs, but until you've actually taken ten minutes on Google to determine whether there really are endangered species of hermit crab, and whether that actually results from a scarcity of shells, I think you're just wasting everyone's time.

    Listen, if people want to make the world a better place, that's great. That's to be respected, and we need more of it, and we do more people who are concerned about taking responsibility for their communities, their world, and their environment. But good intentions aren't enough to make a difference. This kind of thing is just a waste of time and distracts from the people who are out there every day trying to solve problems that actually need solving. The technology is pretty cool, so there must be some way people could use it that would actually solve a real problem.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"