Mary Akers, a self-taught ocean advocate, breeds land hermit crabs in captivity. Typically, people go to pet stories to buy hermit crabs — ones that have been captured in the wild — but the industry isn’t well-regulated. As Samantha Edmonds explains in this unexpected and enjoyable piece from 2019, Akers’ success with captive breeding of crabs opens up a lot of possibilities, not only for these incredible, fingernail-small creatures, but for the pet industry and the marine environment.

“I look for connections,” she said. “I love providing the correct environment, watching an animal up close live its life, learning from it. I like to nurture things and see them thrive, but I don’t need them to love me back.”

“They start in one stage and then end up in another,” she continued, awe-struck. “They’re so fascinating. Born in the ocean. They’re born in the ocean. And then they come and live on land.”

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.