Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots

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by johnsonk6990
Last updated 9 years ago

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Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots

Due to overfishing of horseshoe crabs in the 90s, the population has severely declined. Over the last decade the population in the Delaware Bay has been reduced by almost 75%. Because of this reduction, when they spawn in the spring, there is much less eggs produced.Each year the Red Knots make a three month journey from Chile up to the Delaware Bay and then on to the Arctic.The horseshoe crab eggs are the lifeline for the birds' existence. Because of the drastic reduction in the number of eggs, the Red Knots do not have enough to properly 'refuel' for their journey and many do not make it the 2,000 mile journey to the Arctic to reproduce.

Their Relationship

Horseshoe Crab eggs

Some Red Knots fly upto 20,000 miles round tripeach year to mate, at timesflying up to four days and nights non-stop

Eggs are soft and packed with protein that the Red Knots need to fatten up and complete their journey

Red Knot Bird

A Tale of Two Species

Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knot bird

Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe crab's infamous blue blood contains a clotting agent called lisate that detects minute traces of bacteria, forms a barrier and kills it. Lisate is used in the biomedical field and is extremely valuable: 1 quart is worth about $15,000. The FDA requires all IV drugs to be tested with lisate before being used for humans. It is also used for vaccines, human optics and burn treatments.

Horshshoe crabs are a species nearly 250 million years old, literally a living fossil, able to stand the test of time. They are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than crabs.

Red Knots have one of the longest migrations on earth, an unimaginable feat for such a small creature


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