- Horseshoe crabs have blue blood! Their blood is very important to medical research because it is used to make LAL (Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate). Scientists use LAL to detect bacterial infections in medical equipment.
- The horseshoe crab is NOT actually a crab! It is more closely related to spiders and scorpions.
- The tail of the horseshoe crab is not dangerous, nor is it used for fighting. The tail, called the Telson, is used to turn the horseshoe crab upright if it gets turned over.
- Horseshoe crab eggs are the main protein source for important migratory shorebirds. The Red Knot depends on the eggs to help gain enough weight it reach its destination (the birds fly from the Artic to Tierra del Fuego, Chile each year).
- Horseshoe crabs were around during the time of the dinosaurs. They have remained mostly unchanged for at least 430 million years.
- Horseshoe crabs have 9 eyes? 7 help them see different shades of light, and two are compound eyes. The crabs can see both visible and ultraviolet light. These compound eyes are believed to help the crab locate a mate. Scientists are studying the horseshoe crab eyes to better understand human eyes and treat eye-related illnesses.
Horseshoe crabs are incredible creatures that are a valuable part of the Delaware Bay ecosystem. Remember, a horseshoe crab can't hurt you and they are not poisonous. If you see a live horseshoe crab turned over on the beach, carefully turn it over by gripping its sides, NOT the tail, and point it in the direction of the sea. Horseshoe crabs return each year to the bay in May and June, so they are a welcome sight for the beginning of summer.
If you are interested in participating in the American Littoral Society's horseshoe crab tagging program, please visit our website, http://www.horseshoecrabtagging.org/