Category Archives: horseshoe crabs

Volunteers Count Crabs

ID-100292377Image courtesy of Elwood W. McKay III at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

Environmental volunteers are invaluable when it comes to gathering important and essential data. In many cases, that data relates to wildlife populations. How many of the species are living in an area? Where are they living? Are they migrating? If so, when and to where? These kinds of questions are answered by dedicated volunteers, who often do the work at all hours of the day and night, in all sorts of weather conditions. In Delaware, volunteers are monitoring populations of horseshoe crabs, a species that is important to the ecosystem and to the human population. According to the story, “The fishing industry uses horseshoe crabs for bait. Migratory birds eat their eggs. And biomedical companies use their blue blood to make a special clotting agent.” These are just a few reasons why volunteers are wading out in to the water every night to count the crabs. They’re also paying special attention to the health of the female population who are spawning. This is especially important data which will help scientists gain an understanding of the health and the future of the horseshoe crab.

You can check out the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for more information.

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