Annual Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Project

Annual Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Project

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program

Horseshoe Crabs are described as living fossils, one of the oldest living species on Earth. Their eggs, deposited in abundance in the beaches of Long Island’s bays and estuaries, are an essential energy source for migrating shorebirds- Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and are particularly important for the survival of the Red Knot, a recent addition to the federal endangered species list. Their copper based blood turns blue when exposed to the oxygen in the air and contains cells that are extracted and used as the primary safety test for bacterial contaminants in human drugs, vaccines prosthetics and other medical devices. Participants in this survey will help collect data on spawning abundance, size, sex and tag returns around the full and new moons from May to July. The annual Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Project is conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program with funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). This data, together with data from monitoring programs up and down the Eastern Seaboard, is used to assess the status of horseshoe crabs in the New York marine district and to assist with the management and conservation of this important marine species.