A Heart for Horseshoes

This week’s blog was written by Jonathan H., a Brookies alumni. Jonathan has always been interested and passionate about wildlife and conservation. He enjoys hiking, nature photography, boating, and fishing in his free time. Attending WLA has deepened Jonathan’s involvement and interest in conservation and he intends to continue doing what he can to make a positive impact on his community. WLA has also helped him come to realize that he is truly interested in entering the ecology and conservation field as a career. Jonathan hopes to help educate others about the importance of conservation and to help others develop a passion for the natural world around them.

While taking a stroll along a beach on Long Island looking for shells and enjoying the view, I stumbled across a horseshoe crab turned over on its back. After taking a closer look (and helping it flip back over of course), I began thinking about how interesting their anatomy is. Despite being named horseshoe “crabs,” they are actually chelicerates, being similar to arachnids like spiders and scorpions.

Going for an enjoyable stroll on the beach
Horseshoe crab stuck on its back

Having my newfound interest in these ancient creatures, I was interested in their conservation status. Little did I know, horseshoe crabs are actually quite threatened. These animals are harvested for their blood, used for fishing as bait, and eaten as a delicacy in parts of the world. These practices have proven quite detrimental to populations and now have our horseshoe crab friends looking at endangered and possibly even extinct status.

A horseshoe crab tail washed up on the beach
Horseshoe crab after being flipped back over

There is hope however! Although natural breeding of horseshoe crabs in captivity has proven difficult, breeding centers such as the one in Johor, Malaysia have been able to breed and release horseshoe crabs back into the wild in the thousands. Although there is uncertainty for these wonderful, ancient critters, it is still possible for us to protect and preserve them for the next generation. I encourage everyone to continue to keep an eye out for things you can do to continue to support conservation as a whole!

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.