Martin Z. Mollusk to appear on Animal Planet

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Martin Z Mollusk hobnobs with his good friends Marilyn Monroe, impersonated by Holly Farris, and the late Ted Prior, renowned Elvis performer who entertained during Martin Z. Mollusk Day.

OCEAN CITY — On Saturday, Dec. 10 Martin Z. Mollusk, the long-serving city mascot - a hermit crab known affectionately as “MZM” - will appear on the television channel Animal Planet.

Martin will appear on a one hour show called “Pets 101,” devoted to unusual pets.

“It’s quite a coup for Martin, a real feather in his cap,” said city publicist Mark Soifer, who serves as Martin’s media and spiritual advisor, chef and biographer. “He will be appearing with some other ‘garden pets,’ including a turtle. Martin doesn’t really like to share the limelight, but for Animal Planet he said it was OK.”

Martin’s been in media outlets from New York to London, Scotland to Tokyo. He was “the first hermit crab in space,” and was honored by a joint resolution of the state legislature – the only crab ever to receive such a distinction. He’s even been the subject of a question on “Jeopardy!”

Martin was featured on the First Night 2011 button. Events throughout the year, including the Doo Dah and Baby parades and Night in Venice, were dedicated to him; beach tags honored him.

The iconic crab appears in the Miss Crustacean pageant. He launched crab races and extreme crab wrestling. He helps unlock the ocean for Memorial Day. Soifer says he works his shell off for Ocean City and deserves the recognition.

“It’s very exciting,” Soifer said. “Over the years Martin has been all over the world.”

A famed weather forecaster, Martin’s record is far more impressive than Punxsutawney Phil’s. Martin made his initial appearance in Ocean City in the spring of 1974 when he saw his shadow thus ensuring that summer would arrive one week early at the family resort. Since then, Soifer said he has seen his shadow every year except 1983 when he projected a partial image and correctly predicted that summer would arrive 3-and-a-half days early.

His biography, “The Martin Z. Mollusk Story: Rhyme and Punishment” was reprinted this year by popular demand. Soifer said the Animal Planet appearance will be one of his most important.

“He’s going to be promoting Ocean City, but the real reason for the show is to promote the proper care of hermit crabs, and that’s something that really hasn’t been out there enough.”

When he’s not serving the city, Martin lives at an assisted care facility for hermit crabs, the Old Salt shop at 13th Street on the Boardwalk. Caregiver Stacey Klause – an expert in the care of hermit crabs, aging and otherwise - attends to his daily needs.

“The Animal Planet people came to Ocean City and filmed for about two hours,” Soifer said. “Stacey talked about proper care. You can’t buy one and just let it loose on the beach and think it’s going to survive. They can’t survive the winter here, it’s too cold.

“Hermit crabs require a certain temperature, they have to eat certain foods, like lettuce and oatmeal and you have to keep a moist sponge in their cage. They also have to be sprayed a couple of time every day. You have to put a bigger shell in the cage; they leave their shells as they grow. Sometimes they molt; they lose their shells.

“They also need something to climb in the cage,” he said. “The most important thing to Martin has always been proper care, and finally we are able to get the word out. A lot of people who adopt hermit crabs are unaware of their needs.”

Soifer said Martin had “quite a day” when the Animal Planet folks were in town. He participated in the official ceremony commemorating the opening of the ocean for the season and Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, took Martin for a ride on the carousel at her family’s amusement park, Wonderland. He visited some of the shops, stopping at Primo’s for pizza crust, a hermit crab favorite.

“It was a big day for sure,” Soifer said. “Ocean City will be highlighted once again. This could be a real launching pad for Martin. Who knows, next it might be David Letterman!”

Soifer said Martin’s Animal Planet segment will also be shown in re-runs throughout 2012.

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