With the beginning of May, the Littoral Society will resume one of our most popular volunteer activities: horseshoe crab tagging.
As in previous years, we will be tagging at multiple locations in New Jersey throughout May and June. Anyone who would like to participate can sign up through our website for tagging. Tagging is closed for dates along the Delaware Bay. You can still register to tag with us at sites along the Shark River.
The Littoral Society's community science tagging program developed as a means to gauge the effectiveness of the Society-led horseshoe crab spawning habitat restoration efforts along Delaware Bay. Delaware Bay is home to the largest spawning horseshoe crab population in the world.
Habitat restoration efforts became imperative following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which left many Delaware bayshore beaches covered in debris and stripped of sand. Horseshoe crabs, which have survived largely unchanged for about 450 million years, play a crucial role in the ecology of Delaware Bay, migration of shorebirds, and human health.
The Delaware Bay estuary is the largest stopover for shorebirds along the Atlantic Flyway. Migratory shorebirds, including the threatened Red Knot (Calidris canutus), stop in Delaware Bay each spring to feast on horseshoe crab eggs before completing their migration to Arctic nesting grounds.
In addition to feeding hungry shorebirds, horseshoe crab blood has also helped to keep many of us alive. If you have ever had a vaccine, chances are that it was tested for safety using horseshoe crab blood.
Tagging and monitoring crabs helps provide information on population trends and crab movement, which provides a small window into the health of an important and ancient species. The spawning season of the Horseshoe Crab is the only time they come ashore and the season is just a few short weeks in May and June. Data from the work is provided to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and also helps us identify possible beaches for future restoration projects.
Tagging crabs is also an educational and family-friendly activity. Volunteers join us on beaches at night around peak times for crab spawning and learn about horseshoe crab biology prior to tagging live crabs.
Your donations keep this program going.
Have questions? Contact Quinn Whitesall at email@example.com for more info on Delaware Bay crab tagging or Capt. Al Modjeski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on tagging along the Shark River. You can find more information about tagging on our website. Additional information on where to meet and what you should bring will also be emailed after registration.