Volunteers are needed to collect data on mating horseshoe crabs for the 4 days on and near the full moon, June 18, and the new and full moons in July.
Dr. John Tanacredi of Dowling College is organizing a collection of data in order to know the numbers of this species. They are harvested for bait
and for medical purposes. Data from Maryland and New Jersey indicate that numbers are way down and those states are regulating the harvest in order to protect the species. Currently in New York State, here in Peconic Bay and in Long Island Sound people are allowed to take 200 crabs per day.
Volunteers are needed to go to bay and sound beaches at the night high
tide with a flash light and the data sheet from Dowling College. Download your copy by clicking here. Walk the beach, and count the male and female crabs, and indicate the length of beach that was monitored. The data can be given to me, Heather Cusack, or directly to Dr. Tanacredi, Dr. John T. Tanacredi, Chairman of the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences at Dowling College.
In the past, horseshoe crabs were not much more than an oddity that beach-goers would step over; often called “a living fossil”, their existence here on the Earth predates the dinosaurs by more than 100 million years. In the 1950s, scientists discovered a compound in the crab’s blood that clots when it comes in contact with harmful bacteria. Many countries,
including the US require the biomedical industry to use this compound to
test objects used during medical procedures – syringes, scalpels, i.v.
drugs, that come in contact with bacteria and can cause infection. To
supply the biomedical industry, over 300,000 crabs are caught and bled each
year; some are returned but over 40 percent die; their catch was not
considered a threat to the population until the 1990s when researchers
started to notice lower numbers of crabs coming to shore during spawning.
Another demand on the species is a demand for conch in certain culture’s
diets and for the american eel; the horseshoe crabs are harvested and cut
up to bait the traps for these species.
The collection of data will help to legislate the catch of these species.
I have the high tide data for Southold; tide charts are available at
Hart’s Hardware and from Sea Tow, and can be extrapolated for other towns
by adding or subtracting several minutes. June 16- 10:30, June 17 – 11:18,
June 18- 11:51.
It’s fun and amazing to go out and watch the crabs mate,
dig their nests and lay their eggs. I hope you will help! Please contact
me through this website, or just choose a beach and go!
I will be covering Goose Creek and South Harbor- its always good to have 2 people
Photo: Dr. John T Tanacredi, courtesy of Dowling College