Horseshoe Crab Nesting Surveys

Horseshoe Crab Nesting Surveys

The Marine Discovery Center partners each year with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the University of Florida to survey the Indian River Lagoon for horseshoe crabs.

Volunteers survey five locations within the lagoon searching for mating pairs nesting on shorelines. The surveys take place each January through April with new sites added each year.

Walking surveys are conducted along shorelines, with volunteers assisting in locating and capturing the animals, as well as recording data and tagging the horseshoe crabs with numbered U.S. Fish & Wildlife tags.

Data gathered includes taking body measurements of the crabs, recording physical features, such as eye color, physical damage, age and gender, and information about numbers of crabs mating in the surveyed area. Volunteers also record water-quality and environmental data and may help collect genetic samples.

Surveys are conducted both in daylight and evening hours and walking is involved. MDC holds horseshoe-crab training workshops prior to the surveys for volunteers who plan to participate.

The surveys are part of a statewide effort to identify nesting beaches, to evaluate horseshoe crab population stability, and to learn more about these creatures that are more than 400 million years old.

Contact jessy@marinediscoverycenter.org for more information on horseshoe crab surveys.

To participate in horseshoe crab surveys and our other citizen science programs, you must first become an MDC Volunteer. Visit our volunteer page for information or contact traci@marinediscoverycenter.org