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Horseshoe crabs won't hurt you

Letter to the Editor

December 28, 2016
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Horseshoe crabs won't hurt you

What are all those scary-looking things in or near the wrack line on the beach? You'd look scary too if you were over 350 million years old and you predated dinosaurs and you are still here. They used to roam the whole earth and now they are found only in four places, one of which is the salt waters along the coasts of the United States from Florida to Maine.

They are called horseshoe crabs, which is a misnomer since they are more closely relaedted to spiders than to crabs. They are harmless. They won't bite you. They won't sting you or hurt you. As a matter of fact, they are very beneficial to us: they are bottom feeders and help clean up the waters. They have blue blood, which is being used by the medical field to detect bacteria in any invasive procedures. They don'tt cure anything, they just alert the medical field if there is a problem, And third, they have compound eyes which means, like mothers and teachers, they can see 360 degrees. Research is ongoing to find a cure for retinitis pigmentosa for humans with this disease, which leads to tunnel vision and blindness.

Article Photos

Horseshoe crabs have a lifespan of about 18 years. They come up on the shores, especially in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York in May to lay their eggs any time after about 8 years old. The horseshoe crab egg laying occurs about the same time that thousands of birds are migrating from South America, which is going into winter. The birds need these eggs as a food source to continue north for the summer.

Horseshoe crab numbers are severely depleted due to a number of causes, including pollution, habitat encroachment (they need a sandy beach to lay their eggs, they can't climb bulkheads), and have been ground up to use as road surfacing. Fishermen quarter them and use them for lobster bait.

The horseshoe crabs washing up on our shores now are only a few years old and really have no business being washed up dead. I am very concerned that this is happening.

Eddie Foster

Fort Myers Beach

 
 

 

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