Every spring throughout May and June, particularly during high tides and new moons, horseshoe crabs begin spawning. If you happen to catch this event, you won't forget it! The male hooks onto the back of the female's shell with his adapted "boxing glove" claws and hangs on while she digs the nest and deposits thousands of tiny green eggs. The eggs are then fertilized by not only the male hitching a ride, but very often, several additional males. These other males are called satellites.
Several migrating birds depend on horseshoe crab eggs, such as the endangered red knot, making horseshoe crab conservation even more important. Here are some of the ways you can help horseshoe crabs:
Just Flip Em!
The easiest way to help horseshoe crab is to just flip them over if you see them upside down on a beach. This could save their lives and help increase their numbers. You simply grab the outer edges of the shell and flip them over, making sure you don't break the tail, which can retract inward when handled. Don't worry about their tail (telson), it's harmless as are the legs and claws.
Become a citizen scientist
You can help horseshoe crabs by participating in surveys to help conservation organizations tag, count and assess horseshoe crab populations. Yes, this is a thing! We have several of these organizations listed in the Horseshoe SOS app. If you always wanted to participate in a citizen science program, this is a perfect opportunity.
Report a Tag
If you happen to see a tagged horseshoe crab (dead or alive or a detached tag), please download our Horseshoe SOS app and report it to the US Fish and Wildlife service. It's easy and your data is critically important.
Horseshoe crabs are amazing, ancient animals, and if you have the chance to visit one of the many spawning sites along the east coast, please do. It's not every day you see a 450 million year old, virtually unchanged "living fossil" in the wild.