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    Horseshoe Crabs

    The horseshoe crab is a marvel of non-evolution. Remaining relatively unchanged for millions of years, they live on the ocean floor for most of their adult lives, leaving the safety of the waters only to spawn each spring when the tides are right. A professor at the University of Delaware suggested I try Kitts Hummock beach, just east of Dover, on a New Moon for the best chance of seeing the horseshoe crab spawning. The New Moon high tide occurred on a Saturday morning, so rather than sleep in and miss the spectacle, I spent Friday night in a Dover motel. Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, I was off!

    For some misguided reason I imagined something akin to the grunion run, only with miniature tanks. To truth turned out to be far less dynamic, a slow-motion spectacle of wave-flipped crabs and sated gulls. It wasn’t until I had been there for 2 hours that I thought, “Where did all these eggs come from? I think they’re spawning….” I have a few pictures of the eggs themselves. All varied in color, piled up at the edge of the shoreline. The birds had a field day, and it’s amazing that any of the eggs survive.

    The crabs themselves are fascinating to examine. They’re quite heavy, with a propensity to flop on their back when a wave hits them the wrong way (which seems to be all the time…). We humans have a nice symbiotic relationship with them: We flip ’em over so they survive, and they provide their blood so that we keep our injections safe. Who knew!?

    Horseshoe crab gallery

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