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Project කtuwa – The story of caring shells

The world is a magnificent painting which is shaded with the colors of diversity. Every aspect of nature is a wondrous adventure to explore and get amused. So the Community Service avenue of the Rotaract club of University of Kelaniya began their journey to reinforce one of the tiny group of friends of nature.

Their walk is not straight, but they do enjoy the ride. The shell is their home and interestingly during their lifetime they move on to different homes according to their requirements. These little creatures are experts in creating curiosity within anyone who watches them shifting homes. Such unique members of the world! BUT today as we humans have conquered earth they are forced to live in homes that are unfavorable for their existence. Do you know who they are? Yes, it’s all about the Hermit Crabs!

Haven’t you heard of them? Then here’s a ride through the project ‘කtuwa’ where the Community Service avenue did a splendid job to raise awareness and implement actions to help these hermit crabs save their habitat.

The organizing committee of project කtuwa officially began the project on the 14th of January 2022. The concept of the hermit crabs was initiated by Mr. Udaya Priyantha Epa, Professor in Zoology and Environment Management – University of Kelaniya with whom the directors and team leaders of the community service avenue had a meeting with and gained a comprehensive idea about these little creatures who didn’t possess a shell on their own and had to live in shells which they found from the natural environment they lived in. Mr. Udaya Priyantha Epa supported the team by providing insights from the research which was conducted by the professor and his team. Following the meeting required documents and information was also shared with the avenue representatives which was the first stepping stone of the project. Then the proceedings were followed up by calling for the OC and appointing the Co-chairs, the PR team, the editorial team, the event coordination team and also a research team as an in depth research was required due to project කtuwa being a unique initiative where it is about species that aren’t much known by everyone.

Their first step was an interesting videos addressing the question of ‘who are hermit crabs?’ which set the stage for everyone to grasp the concept of what the project was about with an essence of suspense as well.  Then the team went on with another heartfelt video about the impacts caused to species due to lack of sea shells in the sea shore due to the acts of humans, which emphasized about the purpose of the project ending the second video of the project with a simple yet profound remark, ‘ඔබත් වෙරළෙන් කිසිවක් රැගෙන නොඑමින් පා සටහන් පමණක් ඉතිරි කර ඒමට වග බලාගන්න’.

The hermit crabs lack sea shells due to acts of people who collect shells for different purposes like as a hobby, for businesses etc. As these little shell less crabs didn’t have shells gifted to them form the nature, they tended to utilize plastic lids and other waste materials found in their habitat which was detrimental for them. The කtuwa organizing committee began their endeavor of collecting snail shells for these hermit crabs as an alternative to sea shells and to stop these helpless creature occupying artificial homes.

The team faced two major challenges when executing the project and they were, collecting an adequate amount shells and deciding the location of the project. The first challenge was successfully won by the team due to the amazing contribution of the members and the effort invested to collect snail shells. The next challenge which was deciding the location as the team didn’t know exactly about the venues and this had to be given vital importance. There were many suggestions about the venue and the research team also visited Negambo regarding it. And upon many analyzing, researches and discussion the venue for the project was marked.

And finally the journey of months reached its ultimate destination. On the 21st of March 2022 the team visited the Kadolkale site of The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) which was a lagoon where the hermit crabs could be seen lively. The team was able to gift the little friends more than hundred snail shells. The team started their journey with much enthusiasm and excitement and these were further multiplied when they got the opportunity to meet the hermit crabs in real. The participants dug the muddy soil a bit and placed the shells for the hermit crabs to come and occupy their new homes. The day ended with loads of memories of togetherness of the team where everyone enjoyed each and every moment and the opportunity to collaborate with nature was indeed a fact of celebration, satisfaction and exultation.

The කtuwa official blog was also established by the team and throughout the months where the project took place the organizing team also made sure to spread awareness about the hermit crabs through their elaborative blog articles which were scripted based on different topics such as ‘Hermit Crabs and Their Habitat’, ‘Threats to Hermit Crabs’, ‘Why hermit crabs are needed to be conserved?’ and ‘Conservation practices’. And indeed the කtuwa official blog was a fabulous platform to get to about the hermit crabs further which also bring into spotlight the importance of the project.

Accordingly, කtuwa turned out to be a momentous success story that provided a unique reminder about nature, on how a simple ecological act can create immense impact upon the community and aid other species on earth.

~Written by: Rtr.Rahma Zuhri | Featured image designed by : Rtr. Pramod Eshan~

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