Horseshoe Crab Facts and Information
Introduction to Horseshoe Crab
The Horseshoe Crab is a type of arthropod. They are often caught to be used for bait during fishing and for catching eels. They are also used as a natural source of fertilizer. They do look like crustaceans but there are enough differences that prevent them from being categorized there. In fact, they are closely related to Scorpions and Spiders.
Horseshoe Crab Description
Several sets of eyes are found on the Horseshoe Crab. Some of them are large and others are very small. They look like a Spider but they only have 5 pairs of legs instead of 8. They also have a tail that is very long and rigid. The entire body is covered with a type of armor that offers them protection. They have gills that allow them to swim.
They are about the size of the average adult man hand. The females are larger than the males. The overall size though will vary based on their location, diet, and the specific species. The blood of the Horseshoe Crab is blue in color.
Horseshoe Crab Distribution
They tend to live in shallow water that has either sand or mud at the bottom. They are found in various locations of the United States. This includes Delaware Bay region, New Jersey, and South Carolina. There are limited numbers of them around Maine. The coastal waters ranging from Japan to Indonesia are also places where various species of this Crab live.
They are very diverse in where they live and how they can adapt to their conditions. It is believed that they have been on Earth for more than 250 million years. During this time it is believed that they have evolved very little.
Horseshoe Crab Behavior
They can swim upside down but they often use their tail to help them flip over. During the summer thousands of the Horseshoe Crab migrate to the Delaware Bay area for spawning. This is a very interesting event to witness and many locals as well as tourists come to the area just to be able to witness it.
Horseshoe Crab Feeding
Worms and mollusks are the main food sources of the Horseshoe Crab. They will also consume small fish and various crustaceans. They are opportunistic and will dine heavily when there is plenty of food for them to consume.
Horseshoe Crab Reproduction
The Horseshoe Crab tends to come to the shore when they are looking for a mate. They migrate to cold water and the females will dig a hole in the sand. She will lay eggs and then the male will come along to fertilize them. She can lay batches of eggs that are up to 60,000. However, she will dig many holes and put some in each to help increase the chances of survival.
The young eggs are very vulnerable to predators. Only a very small amount of them will be able to mature. They go through 6 molting periods from the time they are a larvae until they are an actual Horseshoe Crab.
The sand has something substantial to do with the mating for the Horseshoe Crab. They are drawn to it and that is the only place that they will lay their eggs. This is why the Crab won’t create any offspring when it is in captivity.
Horseshoe Crab Conservation
In New Jersey it is illegal to capture the Horseshoe Crab due to the lower populations. In Delaware and South Carolina only the males can be captured. The goal is to help increase the population of them in these areas. They aren’t considered in grave danger right now but early efforts can prevent them from ending up in such a scenario.