The horseshoe crab has seen the mighty age of the dinosaurs and lived through numerous ice ages. But even though it’s one of the world’s oldest creatures, overharvesting and deterioration of its spawning grounds threaten its survival.
With the horseshoe crab population declining, scientists also have noticed falling numbers in the migratory bird populations that stop in the Delaware Bay every spring to feast on the eggs laid by more than a million spawning crabs.
A PBS film appearing at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10 will focus on the relationship between the horseshoe crab and one of those migratory birds. Billed as “a cautionary tale of the interconnectedness of all species,” the film focuses on the red knot, a small shorebird that makes a 10,000-mile journey each year from South America to its nesting ground in the Arctic.
“Crash: A Tail of Two Species,” will feature a segment on research that College of Marine and Earth Studies Dean Nancy Targett, her students, and DuPont scientists are completing to help address the horseshoe crab population problem. Targett’s work focuses on the creation of artificial bait that can be used by fishermen, whose use of horseshoe crabs to catch species such as conch and eels hurts the crab population.
“Crash” is a PBS film by ArgoFilms for the Nature Series and New York public television station Thirteen/WNET. Check your local listing for specific time and channel information.
To learn more about the College of Marine and Earth Studies, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.