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Yearly Spawning


Not far from here (maybe 36 miles) is a place where miracles occur every year. On a series of beaches that stretch from the mouth of the Delaware Bay to the Atlantic shoreline (with an occasional stray found in Europe) living fossils come ashore every spring with the new and the full moons in late spring. They come in to lay eggs and fertilize them…they are horseshoe crabs.

The name of crab is a misnomer…they are actually more closely related to spiders!

(underside of a dead male)

When the female swims to shore they find the smaller males waiting for them. Males use a mitten shaped appendage to attach to the females carapace, the male(s) then ride her to the egg laying spot. After the tapioca sized eggs are laid the male fertilizes them.

Many horseshoe crabs die with this effort every year

Many birds come to this beach yearly only to feast on the horseshoe crabs while they are migrating! Experts from the Delaware Division of Wildlife estimate that as many as 30 different species of birds flock to Slaughter Beach each spring to participate

The medical profession uses an extract from the horseshoe crab’s blue, copper-based blood called lysate to test the purity of medicines. Certain properties of the shell have also been used to speed blood clotting and to make absorbable sutures.

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What a lot of dead ceabs ! At least it's food for the birds. I think it's quite horrible myself :o(

19 May, 2010


oh's comment was 'I know how they feel! [he will be dead tonight :o)]

19 May, 2010


They look like something out of Alien!

19 May, 2010


Why is the beach called Slaughter Beach? I thought, from the name of the beach that people went there to slaughter these crabs, like in other parts of the world they kill seal & Dolphins.

22 May, 2010


Courtesy of Wikpedia (since I didn't know the answer

"Slaughter Beach was founded in 1681 and incorporated in 1931. There are at least two stories of where the town's name came from: The first is that it was named after William Slaughter, a local postmaster in the mid 1800s. The second story claims “the name came from the horseshoe crabs that wash up on shore and die each year. They come near shore to shallow water to lay their eggs and the low tide strands them leaving them to die, thus the "slaughter.""

23 May, 2010


Thanks, HW. The first story seems the most likely.

24 May, 2010


Have recently heard a programme on Quirks and Quarks, (a science series on Sirius Satellite Radio) about the medicines and drugs that are now being worked on, which come directly from the sea and it's creatures...there was mention of the horseshoe crabs, as well. There are some really potentially beneficial substances that come from something so elemental as slime. Interesting blog, Healerwitch.

16 May, 2011

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