If you have been visiting many seaside towns in Cape May County, I bet you have been seeing lots of Horseshoe Crabs on the beach. Me being very curious about why this is happening, I decided to do a little research of my own.
The over 400 million year old Horseshoe Crabs are heavily found here in the Delaware Bay.
It turns out that this is the largest concentration of Horseshoe Crabs in the Mid-Atlantic. In 2001, the area from the Delaware Bay to Sea Isle City was considered a Federal safe zone for these creatures. AKA this means that fisherman couldn’t catch and kill the Horseshoe Crabs. In 2008 the State of New Jersey put a complete ban on all Horseshoe Crab fishing through-out the state. With the banning of the catching and killing of Horseshoe Crabs, the crabs can now due their business with no human interference.
During the full or new moon of May and June every year, thousands and thousands of horseshoe crabs make their way out of the Delaware Bay to mate and lay eggs on the shore line. The girl crab will only come out of the ocean if her male partner is clipped to her. Together as a group they come ashore.
The girl Horseshoe Crab, after mating, walks up the shore line and digs a hole in which she buries her eggs in. The eggs are in a cluster about the size of a ping-pong ball. One crab can lay up to 5,000 eggs in one ping-pong ball size. The girl will lay these eggs four to five times before returning to the ocean.
Now I know you might have some questions still so here is a FAQ list for you.
1). Are Horseshoe Crabs harmful to you?
– No, actually it is the opposite. The blood of Horseshoe Crabs is used in testing some of our medications. Don’t worry about the safely of the crabs as they are returned to the ocean alive and kicking after they “donate” blood.
2). What do I do if I see one on it’s back
– You are able to pick up a Horseshoe Crab and flip it back over. Make sure you pick up the crab from it’s shell and not it’s tail.
3). Can I eat a Horseshoe Crab
– There isn’t really much to eat from a Horseshoe Crab, so, no. Just don’t do it.
4). What happens to the eggs?
– A few things happen to the eggs. They could be eaten but the Red Knot bird, They could be eaten by fish as they get swept out to the bay, or they will hatch and become baby Horseshoe Crabs.
5). Can I have it as a pet?
– Also, no. They need certain food that human’s don’t sell in a store.
Here is a really cool documentary about the Horseshoe Crab
Before you go, check out these other articles