|Horseshoe crabs are one of the most interesting and most important invertebrates of the bay. They are the dominant benthic (bottom) predator for young clams and other invertebrates. They are a food source for loggerhead turtles and sharks; the only creatures that are large enough to prey on adults. Their eggs are an important food source for migrating shore birds. And they have been harvested for eel and whelk bait, fertilizer and medical research.|
|In the spring horseshoe crabs lay their eggs at the high tide mark during the spring tide periods when the water level is the highest. Two weeks later, the eggs will hatch out and drift as plankton before settling on the bottom for the remainder of their lives.|
|Although ancient, the horseshoe crab has a surprisingly sophisticated anatomy and has a remarkable immune system. The above horseshoe crab models are available from horseshoecrab.org.||Researchers study the nervous and immune systems of the horseshoe crab for insight into human physiology.|
|The horseshoe crab has 10 eyes. Two of them are compound eyes like a dragonfly's. These are important tools for research into eye and nerve function.||And this is the horseshoe crab's view of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse.|
|The horseshoe crab hatches out of the egg without a tail and is sometimes called the "trilobite stage." It develops its tail after it has molted. This animal is neither a trilobite nor a crab, but is more closely related to spiders.||The horseshoe crab is a key species in Sandy Hook Bay. It is utilized by many birds and other creatures as food. Currently, we are cataloging the birds and animals that rely on horseshoe crabs in this way. To learn more about creatures that rely on Sandy Hook's horseshoe crabs, see "Living on Limulus."|
See our program at the National
Marine Educators' Association - 2002 in Mystic.
Take the Horseshoe Crab Quiz.
Visit the Horseshoe Crab
Horseshoe crab anatomy page.
Learn about vision and natural history.