Biologists ask public to report spawning horseshoe crabs
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
This spring, biologists with the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute need help from the public to identify horseshoe crab
spawning beaches throughout the state.
The best time to find spawning horseshoe crabs is
around high tide, just before, during or after a full moon. The
full moon conditions around March 30 and April 28 will create good
conditions for viewing the spawning behavior of horseshoe
The FWC asks beachgoers to report the number of
horseshoe crabs they see and whether the horseshoe crabs are
mating. Mating crabs "pair up," with the smaller male on top of the
larger female. Other male crabs may be present around the couple.
Biologists also want to know the date, time, location, habitat type
and environmental conditions, such as tides and moon phase. If
possible, specify roughly how many are coupled and how many are
juveniles (4 inches wide or smaller).
People can report sightings through one of several
convenient options. E-mail findings to horseshoe@MyFWC.com; or call
the FWC at 866-252-9326.
Fossil records indicate horseshoe crabs first
appeared 450 million years ago and have remained virtually
unchanged since. The species is an important part of marine
ecosystems; their eggs are a vital food source for animals and
birds, such as the red knot.
Horseshoe crabs are important to humans as well.
For instance, in the biomedical industry, horseshoe crab blood
helps save human lives. Pharmaceutical companies use horseshoe crab
blood to ensure intravenous drugs and vaccine injections are
bacteria-free. Scientists have found that no other test is quite as
reliable as horseshoe crab blood, which clots in the presence of
infectious bacteria. Also, research into horseshoe crab eyes
has given scientists a greater knowledge of the functioning of