The horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) is a close relative to the ancient trilobites. It has changed little since it first appeared during the Ordovician Period, about 440 million years ago. To put things into perspective, it was almost as ancient to the first dinosaurs as those dinosaurs are to modern humans. Throughout their unbelievably long existence they have survived multiple environmental catastrophes. Yet, at present, there are signs that this unusually tough arthropod could soon disappear if steps are not taken to conserve it.
Researchers at the Mystic Aquarium are taking a lead in horseshoe crab conservation efforts. The aquarium’s Sea Research Foundation (SRF) has recently partnered with Sacred Heart University (which has already been deeply involved in studies of Long Island horseshoe crab populations). It is also hosting the Horseshoe Crab Watch, an event that gives the general public an opportunity to help SRF and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center staff count a local population of horseshoe crabs as well as learn more about their natural history and ecology.
The partnership with Mystic Aquarium will help Sacred Heart in its development of Project Limulus. The primary aim of the project is to better understand horseshoe crab behavior and migration. The research team will conduct its studies both at home and in East Asia, where horseshoe crabs are under similar threats from beachcombers and fishermen.
The Horseshoe Crab Watch will take place Saturday June 22, 2013 from 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. at Napatree Point (Full Moon Walk) and Saturday July 6, 2013 from 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. at Bluff Point State Park (New Moon Walk). Participants are asked to register for the events (cost is $5.00 per person).
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