When Rudy and I walked down to the bay beach near Cool Breeze Cottage the other day I never expected I would spend a half hour turning over upended horseshoe crabs. The neighbors had warned me that we might see some upside down and we might have to give them a helping hand.
Why so many Horseshoe crabs?
The Indian River Bay which is a two minute walk from our new beach cottage happens to be a prime migrating ground for Horseshoe crab mating season.
I have hoped that I would begin to learn more about coastal nature. I want to learn about the land and sea animal and plants. So Horseshoe crabs are a place to start.
Thanks to my Alexa I found out that the Horseshoe crab average life span is thirty years. Whoa. I bet many don’t get that far but when you see a dead one on the beach you might be looking at an old crab.
That’s often how we see these crabs- dead on the beach. They look scary. But they are actually not aggressive. They don’t have claws that would pinch a human. I guess the horn could hurt if you ran into one underwater. They are quiet and docile and when upside down on the beach pretty helpless.
The crabs spend two to three weeks in this mating pattern. The female beaches herself and waits for the guys to show up. Sometime she has more then one Suitor. It’s a real love in. She then stays on the beach to lay her eggs and thanks to Wikipedia I read they can lay up to 160k eggs in one sitting.
Whoa again! But many are eaten by birds.
The birds -another cool story. The Artic tern just happens to show up during their migration north or south ( I forget which way) and are there just in time to eat the crabs eggs which controls the crab population and gives them strength to continue their migration. They come back every year at that time.
Another cools thing is the eggs are about the size of BBs. The larvae are hatched and are a fully formed little crab.
I sadly missed the day where there were thousands on the beach. But I did get out there to see a lot happening. It’s really awesome.
So back to me turning over the poor crabs who were rolled over. Normally they are supposed to be able to turn over using their long horns. But some have cracked horns. And many that I turned over were missing horns. We all have our challenges and sometimes we need a little help.
Rudy my Golden had no desire to be near the creatures and I was glad when my daughter found me on the beach after her run. I was on a mission to turn over all the upended crabs on the few hundred feet of beach. I handed her Rudys leash and I kept I turning over the crabs and for a while returning them to the water line. Which was getting tiring when my hubby Kevin came in the scene not surprised by my work. He began to help but pointed out just flipping them over would likely be enough as the tide would come in and take out the ones that were done laying eggs.
Good point. So I just flippped and didn’t carry them back anymore.
It was hard for me to see those crabs just laying inert upside down. Just looking like they were giving up. Likely the tide would have turned them over but I wasn’t sure. I wanted to give them a little help. A better chance.
It’s how I am- I save worms. I do. I don’t like to kill bugs. I like to save them. Though the ants that were swarming my night stand the day I got home from the shore weren’t as lucky. There were too many. Kevin has a spray. So…see ya ants.
I am fascinated by this love-in of the Horseshoe crab. I will be sure to get better photos next season. I love the things I learn and this time by accident. I can’t wait to learn more about the shores of the DelMarVa peninsula.
Thanks for letting me share a little about the Horseshoe crab with you. And if you ever see one upside down feel free to give it a little help. They won’t hurt you.
It’s just one being helping out another.
Oh and they have seven eyes and much of our understanding of eyes come from sturdy Horseshoe crab eyes.
Oh and their “blood” is used in drug research.
Oh….and you can read more by following the links below.
Oh…and I’m done. 🙂
A quickly video I took:
More information than you ever need about the Horseshoe Crab.