Horseshoe Crab Study

ARUSA assisting in collecting data for Horseshoe Crab Watch project

Subject: Breeding survey
Location: Indian River Lagoon, Florida
Leader: Dr Robert Sluka

Collecting critical breeding data

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. Horseshoe Crabs are members of an ancient group of arthropods, closely related to spiders and scorpions. But today, populations are threatened by overharvesting and beach developments, which destroy the sandy shores on which they breed. L. Polyphemus is Internationally recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN[1], though very little is known about their population[2].

Daily monitoring along the Indian River Lagoon

Walking every day along known breeding areas of the Indian River Lagoon, an estuary valued for its high biodiversity, 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.

Thank you for your support

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


Horseshoe crabs critical to ecosystem

Many bird species feed on horseshoe crab eggs, fuelling cross-country migration for shorebirds in particular.