Spawning Hot Spots
Don't just read about it
— witness the ancient mating ritual for yourself!
Move your cursor over a highlighted state
in the map below to find known horseshoe crab spawning beaches
and peak spawning dates. Then familiarize yourself with the
tips below. While a few of the guidelines are specific to Delaware
Bay beaches, most of them are helpful to know no matter where
you plan to view horseshoe crabs. If you really want to get
your feet wet, don't miss the section about the volunteer
horseshoe crab census along Delaware Bay.
Tips for Viewing the Horseshoe
you are planning to visit the
Delaware Bay, choose one of the
center beaches. (Delaware routinely
has much higher numbers than
New Jersey, but many New Jersey
beaches have good numbers.)
- Check the laws.
Some beaches have restricted access. For example, New
Jersey has specific laws to protect shorebirds.
the daytime, find the beach you are interested
in visiting, and look for an access point (most
beaches have a public access). To see the largest number
of crabs, plan to return to the beach at night.
- Go to the beach at night when the
numbers of spawning horseshoe crabs are highest, and the
birds are not feeding on eggs on the beach and thus would
not be disturbed.
- If you plan to take pictures or video, if at
all possible, use a red filter on your light as white light
will temporarily blind the animals for a tidal cycle.
Get Your Feet Wet!
In 1990, the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program
and Limuli Labs initiated a horseshoe crab census to estimate
the population in Delaware. With support from volunteers and
federal and state agencies, the census surveys horseshoe crab
spawning density on 18 beaches throughout Delaware and New Jersey.
The data from these annual crab counts provide
a valuable management tool for long-term monitoring of the Delaware
Bay horseshoe crab population.
If you really want to get your feet wet, volunteer
for the Annual Horseshoe Crab census! For more information, click
here or contact Dr. Bill Hall (Delaware) at (302) 645-4253
or by e-mail at email@example.com or
Ms. Benjie Swan (New Jersey) at (609) 465-6552.