Horseshoe Crab Survey – Solstice 2013 part ii


Horseshoe Crab Survey – Solstice 2013

I was late. I didn’t mean to be, but I was trying to get the new instagram to work so I could instagram the spawn and then I realized that I was letting technology get in the way of a 45 million year old annual event ! Man, does that put things into perspective. Do you really think Horseshoe Crabs would miss mating for a tweet? Should I?

I got to the bay as the sun was edging toward the horizon, but it was still remarkably light–it was solstice, after all. A group of volunteer scientists were heading through the dunes to the beach and I ran to catch up with them, but as soon as I reached the water I had to stop. There they were–crabs! Mating! Everywhere! In the shallows of the bay, males vying for one female, nosing him aside, traipsing over each other be the lucky guy(s).

We had a vivacious team of volunteer scientists from ages 7-70 and all were eager to participate. The Qadrat counting method, which was used on our beach, allows for plot-based sampling and works best in high population counts. (You can see the quadrat in the film.) Since two weeks earlier there had been over 1,000 crabs on this shoreline, it made sense to use the quadrat method.

Tonight we did not have thousands of crabs but it was still amazing to see the few hundred that we did see, moving through the water with slow determination. Some of the males were not so slow! In fact, I’ve never seen these crabs be so agile before.

We are counting again on Sunday night, when there is going to be a super huge moon. And tomorrow’s post will be yoga on the beach as the full moon rises! SUMMER IS HERE!!!!


July 2002 : I had lost the sea–my friend the sea had betrayed me and I could no longer swim in her broad arms, nor feel her buoy my heart. I could barely look at her without feeling a tearing in my soul, for the sea had robbed me of a precious friend, grabbed his feet and never let him go. I could not swim in anything but a swimming pool, something with a hard bottom.
And then I saw them, out beyond the breakers and the jetties. The Dolphin pod that swims from Lewes to Rehoboth Bay each morning and they were there and suddenly I was in the water, diving waves and swimming out to them.
I told them of Gregory. I told them my sorrow. I asked them to carry his spirit with them. I wept until the salt of the sea and the salt of my tears were one. I could hear their blow holes, opening, closing, tiny gasps. I could not see them though. Was I alone in the sea? The shore had drifted away and I looked back to where people were standing on the beach, were they watching to see if I would drown out here in the ocean? My heart clutched and raced. Panic. I knew better than to panic, but I had not swum in the ocean for a year and here I was, alone in its expanse. I turned and looked to the horizon. The dolphins must have left me behind. So I headed to shore.
I am a strong swimmer, a mile along the coastline is nothing. But I was choked up and my heart was breaking. I swam and cried. I was alone, as Gregory had been–alone in a cruel world and a cruel sea.
As I climbed back up the shore, my legs weak from the weight of gravity, a woman whom I did not know wrapped a towel around me. I was weeping. “I lost my friend,” I told her. “He drowned.”
She pointed out to the breakers. “They never left your side.”
There they were, the pod swimming near the shoreline. Beckoning to me with their happy fins and tails, then dashing back into the current and their journey. And I continued mine.

Let us save these magnificent creatures and do all we can to serve them with kindness, as they have served us: