Written by Beth Carducci
The Miss Crustacean Pageant 2015
It is Wednesday, August 5, 2015. It is a beautiful day, and despite the very warm temps, there is a nice breeze, along with sunny skies. The contestants for this year’s pageant come filing in, from under the boardwalk, 6th and the beach to be exact. The shade protects the crabs from the hot sun, while other contestants register, (the girls registering hand out care sheets from a Hermit crab website, not sure which one, I lost the paper) and then wait for instruction from the MC of the event, Mark Soifer. Mark steps up to the mic, and gives, in great detail, a speech on the specific care of hermit crabs. This speech is much more in depth than last year. I find out, that he now owns hermit crabs, and is trying to get Ocean City to ban the use and sale of painted shells. I speak to him again, as I did last year, and I hand him a care sheet packet, with the Crab Street Journal business card, which is paper clipped onto the care sheet. He mentions, to the crowd, The Crab Street Journal website, and me, the CSJ representative! I cannot tell you how PROUD I am! The contestants line up, and once again parade around the judges. The winners of the pageant won the last 3 years in a row. This person poured bottled water on her crab last year, and she did it again this year. She did tell me, she takes wonderful care of her crab, big tank, etc. I handed her a care packet, not sure if I believe her. If she knew how to care for crabs, she certainly would not bring them to this pageant, and subject them to this nonsense. So, she wins again, and when her crab will not come out of its shell to walk down the runway, she pours water on it. The crab walks down the runway, and as it does, Shelly the Mermaid (Suzanne Muldowney) sings the Miss Crustacean theme song.
Here is comes, Miss Crustacean, here it comes, our ideal, isn’t it so pretty, crowned today in Ocean City, Claws so comely and feelers so bitty, it’s a crab with true true gritty, oh here it comes, Miss crustacean, greet it now with applause, here it comes miss crustacean, the most beautiful crab on claws!
The crabs are now placed on an enormous table, and sanctioned by “Nascrab”, they have the King of Klutz crab races. The winners receive the coveted rind cup trophy, with a cucumber inside, for crab food. They are placed under a cake container top, in the middle of the table, and when the top is lifted, the first crab outside the line wins. They must win a few races to be in first place.
To my surprise, there were other animal activists out there, and I was more than thrilled to meet them. South Jersey Animal Advocates Peta were there, talking to Fox News. I was there as well, I am in a picture they took, standing near the man who was talking to the news. They were handing out pamphlets and stickers, Keep Hermit Crabs Free, Captivity Kills. We exchanged information and talked for awhile. On the pamphlet, there is a website,
They want people to visit this website before buying hermit crabs. They want to stop the cruel crab trade, and explain how long the crabs can live, and how they are ripped from their homes in the wild, etc. I didn’t notice anyone else there such as myself last year, and it is my hope that even more people will be there next year.
I handed out the care packets, and to my surprise, people were coming up to me, and asking for them! I went into the stores, to hand them out to customers who were buying crabs this year, last year I stood outside and handed them out. This year, I took a bold approach, and gave them to shop owners, clerks, and managers. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised, when the store personnel seemed to be really interested in the info, and asked for copies to hand out to customers who were buying hermit crabs! I pretty much gave them out to the shops last year, didn’t explain too much, or I left them on the counter. I didn’t interact too much, I was afraid I would get kicked out, but they took the info, they didn’t seem too interested. But this year, everyone was really into it! I even got a sterling silver ankle bracelet for FREE, because I gave the clerk the info sheets! I couldn’t believe it! I went into another store, and listened to a clerk, or manager explaining to feed crabs fruit, and veggies. He mentioned lettuce, and I couldn’t help myself, I had to say it, lettuce isn’t the best thing to feed them, and I said organic fruits, veggies, wash with distilled water, and I thought the store clerk was going to be angry, instead, he asked me questions, and took care sheets! A woman approached me to ask if it was alright to get another crab for her tank, and, ask about a missing leg, etc. I LOVED IT! Of course, I handed her an info packet and she was thrilled! I gave every single store that sold hermit crabs info packets, I walked the ENTIRE boardwalk(s) Ocean City AND Wildwood! To say it was a successful two days, would be a lie, success would be for these stores to stop selling these wonderful little animals, or, at least have them in gigantic tanks, with humidity, and NOT WIRE CAGES! Tanks, with sand, not wire cages with gravel, and correct info on care. No painted shells. One store had a poster on the side of the cage, with care info from Florida Marine Research. I liked that they had that, but at the same time, they kept them in wire cages, so, they are not taking the advice of the FMR poster. I talked to a lot of people, I handed out every care packet I had. I noticed some even reading it after I gave it to them. My personal success was that more people were receptive to me, they were appreciative, and seemed to want the information. Will they read it? Will they use it? I hope so, because that, would really be my ultimate success.
On a sad note, my boyfriend overheard customers in a store talking about a shell less hermit crab. I went over, and saw the crab. Of course, I had to buy him, but this particular store didn’t sell the kritter keeper I wanted to use to take him home. I walked/ran blocks and blocks to find another store that sold them, and get a few natural shells. I bought one, and went onto the beach to put some sand in it, and then I bought bottled water. I went back to the store with the naked crab. They put the crab in the keeper, and then put a too large shell into it. I said the shell is much too big for that little crab. The clerk got mad, and left. When I bought the kritter keeper from another store, the clerk asked me if the store was going to charge me for the crab because it was maybe not going to make it, and I said, good question! The store did charge me for the crab, they didn’t really care. So, I got him home, and put him into a 10 gallon tank, in a shallow dish, with distilled water, and I put food in front of him. Later on, I tried to get him into a shell, he ran away. This was at 1:30 am. At 6:30 am, he was on top of the food, I was hoping he would eat, at some point, I put him back into the dish with water, and got a q tip so I could rub his body with some water, to keep him hydrated. I talked to him, told him I cared about him, then I went back to bed, and checked on him again at 9:30 a.m. He passed…………I am sooo heartbroken! I knew he was probably not going to make it, but I wanted to try, I couldn’t leave him there, other crabs might have attacked him, and then they would have thrown him out in the trash, or on the boardwalk, or whatever they do with crabs that don’t make it. I had some hope……….to rehabilitate this little guy, to let him know somebody cared about his fate. After he passed, I leaned down and said, I am sooo sorry I couldn’t save you, I care, others care, and I am sorry you had to go through this. He will have a proper burial, because I care, because his life mattered, and, most of all, because he DESERVES IT.
I would like to list the stores that showed interest in the info packets. If you are in Ocean City, or Wildwood NJ, please visit and buy from these stores!
Sun N Fun 1212 Boardwalk Ocean City NJ
Lola’s 3904 Boardwalk Wildwood NJ
Elaine’s 3718 Boardwalk Wildwood NJ
Genesis 4104-4106 Boardwalk Wildwood NJ
Customized Teez (this card has no address) Wildwood NJ