Horseshoe crabs as homes
|Goal||Discover what species live on horseshoe crabs.|
|Task||Spot and share sightings of animals living on horseshoe crabs.|
Delaware, United States of America
Florida, United States of America
Georgia, United States of America
Maine, United States of America
New Hampshire, United States of America
North Carolina, United States of America
South Carolina, United States of America
Virginia, United States of America
You are walking along the beach on a sunny spring day. But what is that? Something is moving slowly out of the water. It looks like a large crab, covered in barnacles and mussels. Creepy? Ugly? No, its home! At least for all those critters that live on Horseshoe crabs. Horseshoe crabs have been around for more than 250 million years, unimpressed by dinosaurs and ice ages.
Since then, Horseshoe crabs have played a key role in coastal ecosystems: the eggs are eaten by shore birds, juveniles are food for sea turtles, and adults aerate the ocean floor through their digging activity.
We believe Horseshoe crabs serve yet another important function: as substrate for many invertebrate species such as mussels, barnacles and snails. Many marine species require hard substrates to live on, and such substrates are historically rare on the predominantly sandy beaches of the Eastern US.
Help us decipher who lives on Horseshoe crabs! Take clear pictures of Horseshoe crabs and their critters when you see them on the beach, and tweet them to @horseshoe_homes. Just let us know when and where you saw the crab. That's it. In return, we will identify the animals you discovered on the Horseshoe crab.
With your help, we will be able to address the following questions:
Horseshoe crabs come to the beaches to mate and lay eggs when the tides are highest. This happens at full and new moons. So be on a lookout for them!
|How to Join||
Send us pictures of Horseshoe crabs and their epibionts via twitter or facebook. Don't forget to mention when and where you saw the crab.
|Ideal Age Group||Elementary school (6 - 10 years), Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families|
|Ideal Frequency||Just once|
|Average Time||Less than an hour|
|Spend the Time||outdoors|
|Type of Activity||At the beach|
|Tags||beach walk, horseshoe crab, picture|
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