300 million years and counting … 

A Rocha is helping to collect critical breeding data on the American Horseshoe Crab Limulus polyphemus as part of the Florida Horseshoe Crab Watch – a project run by the University of Florida and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

According to the best of scientific knowledge, Horseshoe Crabs have been around for more than 300 million years and are members of an ancient group of arthropods, closely related to spiders and scorpions[1]. But today, populations are threatened by overharvesting and beach developments that destroy the sandy shores on which they breed. Internationally recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN[2], in the Indian River Lagoon – an estuary valued for its high biodiversity – very little is known about their population[3].

A Rocha’s Marine Life Conservation Fund supports critical efforts to protect our precious oceans and the communities who use them. In Florida, your support has enabled A Rocha staff to receive training on survey and tagging procedures, which has equipped them to study this amazing species and contribute to its conservation efforts.

Walking along known breeding areas of the Indian River Lagoon every day, researchers are counting the number of Horseshoe Crabs sighted. During spawning events, thousands pile onto the beach and recording them all is no small task! Some crabs are tagged so that researchers can continue to monitor them and get a better understanding of their breeding behaviour and how the population is changing.

A gift today through Gifts with a Difference will help A Rocha’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme continue to transform the oceans so that its rich bounty is sustained for future generations.

Horseshoe Crabs on the beach in Titusville (Bob Sluka)

[1] A Rocha recognizes that there are a wide variety of views amongst Christians on the age of the earth and the processes God has used to create living creatures. We do not wish to distract from our primary task of practical conservation and creation care by entering into circular debates, and allow our staff to have their own views on this.

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