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Horseshoe Crabs Begin 2024 Migration Onto Maryland Beaches

Something ancient is making its way onto the shores of Maryland – the annual spawning migration of horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus. The migration usually takes place from May through July, and its peak culminates with high tides on or around each full and new moon in May and June. Dating back an estimated 350 million years, this yearly event along the Atlantic coast is believed to be the world’s oldest and largest wildlife migration. On average, one spawning female horseshoe crab will deposit 20,000 eggs into the sand. In addition to perpetuating the ancient species, these eggs are a natural part of the diet for migratory shorebirds preparing to return to their summer nesting grounds in northern Canada. Horseshoe crab larvae are also an important food source for juvenile Atlantic loggerhead turtles, as well as striped bass, American eel, and flounder. The horseshoe crab also provides a valuable commodity for humans, as its copper-based blood is critical for biomedical research. The animals are collected by specially permitted fishing operations, have blood drawn in a biomedical facility, and then are released back into the water. Despite their menacing armor and tail, horseshoe crabs are gentle creatures that do not bite or sting. […]

The post Horseshoe Crabs Begin 2024 Migration Onto Maryland Beaches appeared first on Southern Maryland News Net.

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