Humans weren't the only ones shaken up when Superstorm Sandy tore through New Jersey last fall. Wind, waves and storm surge re-sculpted much of the state's coastline, with potentially disastrous consequences for two of our state's iconic critters: horseshoe crabs and the Red Knot sandpipers whose lives depend on them.
The Red Knot is the ultramarathoner of shore birds, migrating each spring from one end of the Earth to the other, from its winter home in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America to its summer breeding grounds in the North American Arctic. The most crucial stop in this incredible journey is a layover in New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore to gorge on eggs laid by horseshoe crabs.
Sandy damaged many of the best crab nesting beaches along the Bayshore, pushing sand into high dunes on the salt marshes and exposing mudflats, vegetative mats of marsh plant roots and age-old debris from abandoned fishing shacks. According to New Jersey Conservation biologist Dr. Emile DeVito, horseshoe crab nesting sites will likely be in short supply this spring.
Talk about bad timing! The state Senate and Assembly just introduced bills to lift the moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs for bait. Bleeding horseshoe crabs for lysate, an important pharmaceutical need, is allowed, but many of those crabs also die upon return to the bay. According to Dr. DeVito, understanding the scientific evidence gathered on the near-extinct Red Knot might help our legislators and citizens realize exactly what's at stake.
Read the full story at the Times of Trenton>>
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