illustration: horseshoe crab (v2)
March 4, 2017
Horseshoe Crabs have been on the earth for 500 million years. They are fragile gentle creatures. They use their tails, not for stinging, but as a rudder while moving in the water, and if necessary, to right themselves when flipped upside down.
Although horseshoe crabs lay over 800,000 eggs at a time, it is estimated that only 10 will survive to adulthood. That is because so many other animals, such as turtles, fish and birds, eat the eggs. Without the existence of the horseshoe crab, tiny Red Knot birds may perish as they rely on the horseshoe crab eggs for energy to sustain them for the long annual migration along the Atlantic, from the Arctic to South America.
Thanks to horseshoe crabs, human vaccines have been tested and approved by using the crab’s blue blood. Special cells in the blue blood attack any bacteria, thereby telling physicians if an experimental drug is safe or not for injection.
So when this spring comes and you see horseshoe crabs spawning at the beach, be nice to them, because they have been giving their lives to us and the Earth for a very long time.
My illustration shows a horseshoe crab emerging from the sea to lay her eggs during spawning season.