Image # 2596
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 he 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. Horseshoe crab eggs are now down to 20% of their former abundance and they are a vital food source for an incredible assemblage of migrating shorebirds. Shorebirds are some of the longest distance migrants, flying from Arctic Canada to as far South as Argentina. On the migration north 80% of the populations of several shorebird species including Red Knot and Sanderlings stop at the Delaware Bay where they need to double their weight before flying to their breeding areas. Horseshoe Crabs are prehisoric beasts with blue blood that have not changed visibly since the time of dinosaurs.