Horseshoe Crab Mating Season, Sandy Hook, NJ   2007-05-30


Late May and early June is the traditional mating season in this area for the horseshoe crab, a species little changed over millions of years, and  supposedly the height of the mating season is linking to the full moon at about this time of the year.    Generally more visible at night, the National Park Service conducted a walk on the beach at Sandy Hook, NJ on Saturday night.





These kinds of crabs have been used extensively in medical research.   The rods and cones in the eyes have similarities to humans.    Also, the copper based blood (appearing blue in the right photo due to oxidation), is used in immunological and pharmaceutical treatment and research.

From Wikipedia -  "Horseshoe crabs are extremely valuable as a species to the medical research community. The horseshoe crab has a simple, but amazing immune system. When a foreign object (bacteria) enters through a wound in their body, it almost immediately clots into a clear, gel like material, thus effectively trapping the bacteria. This substance is called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) and is being used to test for bacterial endotoxins in pharmaceuticals and for several bacterial diseases. If the bacterium is harmful, the blood will form a clot. Horseshoe crabs are proving to be very helpful in finding remedies for diseases that have built immunities against penicillin and other drugs"






The females are bigger than the males - the white foam are the eggs about to be laid on the beach sand.   The male crab comes along and fertilizes the eggs immediately after.






This dog was quite intrigued by a horseshoe crab.


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