Horseshoe crabs look like aliens

  • by
Horseshoe crab

Horseshoe crabs have been on the planet for 450 million years. They look truly ancient and they are described as living fossils.

As usual humans persecute these animals

Are there any animals on this planet that humans leave alone and don’t use and abuse in some form or another for their benefit? Everywhere you look there is an animals being exploited by the greedy human. Despite the horseshoe crab’s ancient connection to the long distant past, humankind still finds a way to exploit this animal as we exploit almost every other animal on this planet.

There appears to be two major ways that humankind exploits horseshoe crabs. In the first we bleed them without killing them. Horseshoe crabs have blue blood because there is copper in it. They use haemocyanin to carry oxygen and their blood contains amebocytes which are used to make Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), which is used for the detection of bacterial endotoxins in medical applications. As you can see it is exploitation and considered a harvest. There is high demand for this creature’s blood. Once they’ve been bled they are released back to the wild where it is estimated where between 3% to 30% die.

It’s also believed that bleeding prevents female horseshoe crabs from being able to spawn or it decreases the number of eggs that they are able to lay. The people who do this remove 30% of the animal’s blood. In addition, horseshoe crabs are used as bait fish for eels mainly in America. About 1 million crabs are harvested for bait in the US annually. In New Jersey in 2008 fishing with horseshoe crabs was banned indefinitely.

Further, when there are developments along shorelines it degrades their habitat which affects horseshoe crab spawning by limiting available space, so says the author of the Wikipedia entry. Habitat loss is a major threat to this creature. I presume that shoreline development means encroaching into the sea which removes their habitat which in turn leads to a steep decline in their population numbers. Plus ├ža change.