Sunday, August 21, 2011

Horseshoe Crabs, Dead and Alive

On my visits to the north and west sides of the Great Salt Pond on Block Island a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed by the scores of small, dead horseshoe crabs littering the tide wrack. Most of them were no bigger than a saucer, light brown, almost translucent.

I turned up a bunch of small, live horseshoe crabs while digging for clams, and watched them all swim away and bury themselves. But it made me wonder if the mortality I saw is part of the nature of things for horseshoe crabs or a result of clammers who don’t know what they are doing, or something else.

I was reminded of it today when I saw this story, in the Connecticut Post, about Project Limulus and Professor Jennifer Mattei.


Blogger Me said...

Hi Tom,
Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner when you mentioned this but after reading your post, I am wondering if what you are talking about are Horseshoe Crab molts and not actually dead animals (they will look intact because the molt is one piece). They molt on the average 17 times before reaching adulthood and their final molt. Did they smell horrible? I will take a picture of molt from my tank. The fact that you saw many, they were small and almost translucent leads me to believe that you may have been in a great nursery area rather than a graveyard. :-) I hope!
Heather Smiarowski

5:51 PM  

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