2009-07-10 / School News

Students Meet A Prehistoric Creature On Jamaica Bay

John Rowden, Audubon Society show the kids how to measure the horseshoe crab and collect data for the study. John Rowden, Audubon Society show the kids how to measure the horseshoe crab and collect data for the study. Youth from Ocean Bay Community Center went down to the Bay last week to look at a prehistoric creature coming to Dubos Point to spawn. As part of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance EnvironMentors program, they had learned that this creature, the horseshoe crab, is guided by the moon every year to come to shore and leave their eggs to hatch in the sand. Some of those eggs will become baby crabs that will one day perhaps help to test medicines all over the world with their special blue blood.

Other eggs might be eaten by Red Knot birds who depend on them to complete their 20,000 mile annual migration from Argentina to the Arctic.

Students had also learned that the horseshoe crab was in danger of extinction due to human interference. So RWA agreed to have their afterschool youth take part in a study with Audubon Society to tag and count the horseshoe crabs and shoreline birds that come to Dubos Point during spawning season.

Horseshoe crabs on the shoreline. Horseshoe crabs on the shoreline. John Rowden from the Audubon Society came to discuss techniques scientists use to help save the crab and showed them how to measure and tag the animals to track their migration.

The crabs face a difficult fate given the fact that many fisherman use the crabs for bait and many crabs die getting tangled in the fishermans lines. One concerned student found a horseshoe crab stuck in a fishline. Fearful that it might dry out in the sun, the student took the time to untangle it from the fish line and gently put it back in the water.

The students reluctantly left the shore, promising they would work hard to protect the horseshoe crabs in whatever way they could.

John Rowden and RWA student focused on a nearby crab John Rowden and RWA student focused on a nearby crab

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