Horseshoe crabs will soon be making their way onto Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, drawn to spawn by the spring moon. Staff members from the Maritime Aquarium see it as an opportunity: They plan to attach census tags to the crabs to help determine whether their population is dwindling.
Your help is needed, because the crabs only come ashore on the nights of full or new moons. Volunteers, who should be in 10th grade or older, should attend one of two training sessions at the aquarium: at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, or Sunday, May 8. You'll learn about the natural history of horseshoe crabs, what has been learned from the census work, and how to safely tag horseshoe crabs. Younger children can assist if working with a parent, teacher or guardian.
The horseshoe crab population on the East Coast may be declining as the animals are harvested and ground up for use as bait in eel pots. Fewer horseshoe crabs would mean fewer horseshoe crab eggs, which are an important food source for migrating shorebirds. Thus, fewer horseshoe crabs could mean fewer birds on our coastline.
The census is led by Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. The current work is establishing a baseline crab population and will reveal migrations and any change in numbers.
Tagging sessions at Calf Pasture will be held Monday, May 16, at 11 p.m.; Wednesday, June 1, at 5:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 15, at 5:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Each participant should bring clothing and shoes that can get wet, drinking water and a snack, a headlamp and/or flashlight, pencils and insect repellent. Recommended but not critical are waders, hip boots, gardening or flooring knee pads, and a sturdy bucket to sit on.
To sign up or for more details, call the Maritime Aquarium at 203-852-0700, Ext. 2352, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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