The amount of plastic waste products in the oceans today is highlighted in a series of shocking photographs. Hermit crabs using bottle caps as shells in Okinawa showcase how wildlife is adapting to the huge amounts of waste surrounding them.

Nine years ago resident, photographer and sponsor of the Okinawa UnderWater Photographic Society, Shawn Miller began documenting the dramatic changes that the wildlife, flora and fauna of the seas are having to make due to the increasing amount of plastic in the ocean.

Shawn began photographing the hermit crabs of Okinawa after stumbling across one in 2010 that was using a plastic bottle cap for a shell. Following his initial find, he became more aware of the plastic waste on the beaches and decided to document the ‘plight of the hermit crab’ in a series of images taken over many years. This was highlighted in a major feature in National Geaographic’s Planet or Plastic issue in June 2018.

Like all hermit crabs, the blueberry crabs are soft-bodied and need to ‘steal a shell’ to protect their bodies from harm. When they outgrow one shell they abandon it and move onto another. Shawn’s photographs show how these hermit crabs have adapted and are using the abundance of plastic waste from the beaches as alternative shells.

Take a look at some of the amazing, yet shocking images Shawn captured during his campaign.

Further reading about the hermit crabs of Okinawa and Shawn’s recent ‘shell’ finds visit Okinawa Nature Photography.

All photo credits to Shawn M Miller