Image # 1675
File Photo Horshoe Crab Orgy In Its Heyday Now Endangered by Overharvesting
The Governor of Delaware has requested the National Marine Fisheries Service to place "an immediate moratorium on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs within 30 miles of the mouth of the Delaware Bay." The states of New Jersey and Maryland are expected to join in on this request due to "sharp declines." Unregulated harvest of these crabs in the last 10 years has caused a crash in the breeding horseshoe crab population. A 25% harvest reduction is being largely ignored by Virginia watermen who quarter the crabs for eel bait. Since the crabs are slow to attain maturity, this decline will be a long time healing even if crab harvests were stopped today. Horseshoe crab eggs are now down to 20% of their former abundance. They are a vital food source for an incredible assemblage of migrating shorebirds. On the migration north, eighty percent of the populations of several shorebird species stop at the Delaware Bay. They need to double their weight before flying to their breeding areas and depend on crab eggs to bulk up for their journeys. Horseshoe Crabs are prehisoric beasts with blue blood that have not changed visibly since the time of dinosaurs.