2013-06-07 / Community

The Great Horseshoe Crab Field Trip


Young and old alike are fascinated by the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crab. Young and old alike are fascinated by the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crab. Dozens of nature enthusiasts showed up for the American Littoral Society’s annual horseshoe crab walk at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel last week.

About 75 people joined veteran naturalists Mickey Cohen and Don Riepe and they discovered dozens of horseshoe ‘crabs’ (actually not crabs but more closely related to scorpions and spiders) laying eggs during high tide.

“These are living dinosaurs, whose basic shape hasn’t changed for millions of years,” said Riepe. “They are part of Jamaica Bay’s charismatic critters and need to be protected for their important ecological, educational and medicinal values. Their copper-based bluish blood is refined in the lab and used to detect pathogens in human blood serum and vaccines. The eggs of the crabs are a critical food resource for the thousands of shorebirds that are migrating through the area as well as many species of fishes and marine life that live in Jamaica Bay.”


A barefoot girl studies a cluster of horseshoe crabs at the Jamaica Bay Refuge. A barefoot girl studies a cluster of horseshoe crabs at the Jamaica Bay Refuge. The Littoral Society and other environmental groups are greatly concerned about the recent poaching discovered in the bay. Thieves tried to get away with stealing hundreds of horseshoe crabs in the middle of the night but were caught by an alert NYPD helicopter unit.

“I hope that the National Park Service steps up their monitoring and patrolling of the bay when the crabs are mating in May and June,” said Riepe. For more information about Jamaica Bay’s bird and marine life as well as upcoming field trips contact the Littoral Society: 917-371-8577; email: donriepe@gmail.com; www.littoralsociety.org



Dozens of horseshoe crabs came ashore last week in Jamaica Bay to lay their eggs. In two weeks the eggs will hatch into tiny perfect replicas of this amazing animal. Dozens of horseshoe crabs came ashore last week in Jamaica Bay to lay their eggs. In two weeks the eggs will hatch into tiny perfect replicas of this amazing animal.

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