Lucky HorseshoesMar 26th, 2014 | Category: AAE Volunteer, Blogs
It’s that time of year again when the horseshoe crabs are pairing up and laying eggs along the shorelines in the IRL. The Marine Discovery Center will be conducting horseshoe crab surveys for the 3rd consecutive year in an effort to find out more about the local populations.
We have 8 survey dates scheduled for this year: March 27 and 28, April 14, 15, 28, and 29, and May 12 and 13. Volunteers will wade along the shallows at high tide to search for nesting pairs, then document the location, size and gender of any individuals found. This data will help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission better assess the status of Florida horseshoe crab populations as well as identify important nesting sites around the state. The data will also provide clues to researchers at the University of Florida about the genetic diversity of horseshoe crabs in the Southeast.
Horseshoe crabs are unique arthropods that are valued for their blue blood, used extensively in the medical field to test for contamination. Females lay up to 80,000 eggs in a nesting season, which serve as the primary food source for at least 11 species of birds along their extensive migration routes. Horseshoe crabs shells serve as homes for sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, and more.
FWC is asking for citizens to document any horseshoe crab sightings. Check out their website for more details: http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans-marine-arthropods/horseshoe-crabs/documenting-beaches/
To find out more about ourhorseshoe crab surveys, call the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.