With its spiny shell and spiked tail, the American horseshoe crab would seem to be a creature that people would tend to avoid. But this strange-looking critter is of critical importance to both human health and to the ecology of the Delaware Bay.
A new Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu/horseshoecrab, developed by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program in conjunction with Sea Grant programs in the Mid-Atlantic region, explores the significance of this remarkable marine animal.
The Web site presents a wealth of information about the horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, delving into such topics as its history and biology, its connection to the annual spring migration of shorebirds, as well as fisheries management issues. The site’s navigation is simple and intuitive — links on each page make finding information as quick as a click. Eye-catching graphics and photos make the site visually appealing as well.
Also included is an in-depth look at research that has been conducted on the horseshoe crab. Find out how medical researchers were able to isolate a compound in the horseshoe crab’s blood that is now used to test for bacterial contamination of drugs, or learn what characteristic of the horseshoe crab enabled the development of surgical sutures and dressings for burn victims that have greatly reduced healing times. In addition, fun facts are scattered throughout the site. For example, did you know that the horseshoe crab is not really a crab? It belongs to a large group of invertebrates, or animals without backbones, called arthropods, and its closest living relative is actually a spider.
For more interesting facts, news, and program information related to the horseshoe crab, be sure to visit www.ocean.udel.edu/horseshoecrab!
The University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program is a member of a national network of universities committed to research, education, and technology transfer designed to meet the changing needs of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes regions.