horseshoe crab circle

The horseshoe crab is known as a keystone species, upon which many other species depend for survival, specifically, migrating birds who eat the crab eggs during the middle of their long migration.

This time of year, at the high tides of the full and new moons, female crabs come ashore to spawn. Each crab deposits thousands of small eggs into shallow nests in the sand. While the Delaware side of Delmarva is known for the greatest horseshoe crab populations, we see plenty of them here on the Chesapeake as well.

horseshoe crab circle

Last night’s full moon brought out some local horseshoe crabs, circling up on a beach for a spring spawn, an ancient dance that looks as familiar somehow, as it does strange. (Thanks to Joan for the photo!)

And for the sake of this keystone species, let’s hope that plenty of their eggs make it to maturity. It’s such an amazing thing to imagine the balance of things like this. How many species of shorebirds traveling from South America to the arctic north rely on the eggs of these hard shell crabs, bumbling around the edges of our local waters?

What a beautiful world.

~ by kbosin on May 17, 2014.

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