Get Involved with Horseshoe Crab Spawning Surveys

What can you do to get involved?
Citizen science plays a key role in understanding horseshoe crab behaviors. People from all over the country come to Delaware Bay beaches in late May and early June to participate in the annual spawning surveys. The shading on the map below represents the states from which volunteers have come to participate since 2003.  If you are interested in joining DNREC's effort, the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) coordinates volunteer training each spring at the St. Jones Reserve for all beaches surveyed by DNREC.
Where do our volunteers come from?
Use the slider bar on the map to find out what states horseshoe crab survey participants came from each year, highlighted in green.
How to flip a stranded horseshoe crab
If you are unable to participate in a survey, you can still help out. Many of these harmless creatures get stranded upside-down when the tide goes out. When you spot them on their backs, simply flip the horseshoe crabs over.  Just remember not to grab them by their tails - not because it can hurt you, but because it can hurt them. The best way to flip a crab is demonstrated in this video by Delaware Sea Grant. Scoop them up, like holding a cereal bowl, flip them over so their legs are facing downward, and point them toward the water's edge.
Where can you learn more?
The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve is a great place to learn more about the horseshoe crabs. A partnership between DNREC and DuPont created this natural history interpretive center and wildlife observatory. In 2004, as part of an ongoing effort to protect habitat vital to both horseshoe crabs and red knots, DNREC purchased the ground on which the DuPont Nature Center now stands. From the observation deck, you can see the horseshoe crab-shorebird interaction. The center also has shorebird exhibits, an interactive station, a tank containing live, juvenile horseshoe crabs, and monitors with live camera feeds to view wildlife on the nearby beaches.

Page reviewed 3/5/19