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!!!!