Sunday, June 6, 2010

My broken heart and how you can help: Show some love to the Horseshoe Crabs!

Their cracked shells and dangling legs have started appearing in the tide line at Bayview Beach and I've been wondering how long it would be before seeing one alive; it's horseshoe crab season.  Walking down the upstairs hallway earlier I noticed the colorful sunset and decided to take a walk with my camera down to the water.  Passing through the narrow alleyway entrance I noticed three boys standing on the last remaining sandbar of the night.  They were yelling and throwing rocks at something in the water and as I walked closer I saw their target clearly- two mating horseshoe crabs.  "Hey!" No one turned around, "Hey!" I yelled.  A boy in white swim trunks turned and walked to the edge of the sandbar to hear me better.  "Is that a horseshoe crab?" I asked.  "We don't know what it is," he said.  "Can you please not throw things at it?  Thank you" I added to be polite.

The boys were somewhat shaken, but not as much as I was.  It takes a lot for me to get loud but this instinctual outburst has happened before.  Since I was a child I've been enthralled by these creatures.  Their shells resemble a Klingon's forehead and they exude a peaceful vibe.  They are totally harmless to humans and really need our help if they are to survive.

Back when I lived on Silver Sands beach they showed up in droves.  The momma crab usually carting around a male on her back until finally burrowing into the wet sand.  I'd go to the beach every morning to find people holding them by their tails.  I'd kindly instruct these beach goers to not do that, just flip them over by the edges of their shells if you really want to help.  Some people took the information well while others just thought I was being intrusive.

Horseshoe crabs are not on the endangered species list but are listed as 'threatened' by the federal government. has information and resources to satisfy any one's craving for more knowledge.  If you live near a beach on the east coast you can join in on the count.  They have a Just Flip 'Em program designed to educate people on what to do when you see a crab on its back:

Just flip 'em! Program

Our Just flip 'em! program is designed to bring attention to the hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) who die each year from stranding (stuck upside down) during their yearly spawning ritual and to encourage individuals, through a simple act of compassion, to take the time to assist and appreciate these remarkable creatures, who will not survive public indifference.

The idea is simple: when you see a horseshoe crab that is stranded upside down on the beach, just flip them over. It's important not to flip them by their tail, however. Even though it looks scary, the tail is very delicate and can be easily damaged. The best way to turn them over is by the edge of their shell. No need to be cautious; the horseshoe crab doesn't bite or sting and it's claws are very gentle and won't hurt you.

There are also art contests for children, a theme song, poetry, drawings and so much more.  It breaks my heart to see them being abused.  If you see someone on the beach mistreating a horseshoe crab please let them know the proper way to handle one.  I'll love you forever!

Image courtesy of this great website:


Anonymous said...

You are so informative and well versed...


Rachel said...

Thank you.

William Keckler said...

"Their shells resemble a Klingon's forehead and they exude a peaceful vibe."

OMG that is such great description...and so accurate.

I learned a lot of things from your "Pro-horseshoe crab" piece.

Before reading this, I was convinced if I ever touched that tail I would die within seconds.

It sure looks like it packs like 4,000 volts or something.

Also, it looks "durty."

Something one would find in a "Sex Shoppe" or something.

I heard beach perverts rip them off and use them as riding crops on the asses of their fellow celebrants in their wild Witch's Sabbath of a perverted beach romp.

Which I hope to one day film and sell to CURRENT TV or some other channel that gets "all slutty" and interesting around 11 o'clock at night.