Officials in Florida want to identify nesting sites of horseshoe crab around the state.
And, in a special surprise twist, they want the public to help.
The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking anyone who sees horseshoe crab engaging in mating activities to report it. Not sure what mating activity looks like for the crab? If you’ve seen two or more connected together, that’s mating activity.
Biologists are asking the public for help because Florida has so much coastline. The purpose of the survey is to document where the crab mate and spawn eggs in order to ensure the survival of the species.
Horseshoe crab have been around for millions of years and are found from Maine to Florida in the United States. The numbers of the species have declined over the years for a variety of reasons. Overharvesting for the bait industry and shoreline development are two factors the FWC cites.
The decline also affects shorebirds, which rely on the eggs during migration. Because of the decline, several states have put restrictions on horseshoe crab harvesting. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has also developed a Horseshoe Crab Fishery Management Plan.
Part of the plan requires all Atlantic coast states to locate and identify crab nesting beaches.