The Delaware Bay has long been the home to the largest concentration of spawning horseshoe crabs in the world, but this population has declined by 90% over the last 15 years because of overharvesting and degraded habitat. This trend is not only an issue for the horseshoe crab population itself, but also for migrating shorebird species that depend on the horseshoe crab for survival. In May and June each year horseshoe crabs use the Delaware Bay beaches to lay their eggs. At the same time shorebirds are migrating from South America to Arctic breeding grounds. To complete this journey - up to 9,000 miles long - shorebirds stop over in the Delaware Bay region to refuel on the high-calorie horseshoe crab eggs. As the horseshoe crab population struggles, the shorebirds are unable to fatten on crab eggs to continue to the Arctic. And now many of these shorebird populations - including Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dunlins - are also struggling. In fact, the Red Knot was recently listed as 'threatened' under the federal Endangered Species Act. You can help rescue horseshoe crabs in New Jersey through our reTURN the Favor program, keeping horseshoe crabs and shorebirds in the Delaware Bay for many years to come.
The Issue: While coming ashore many of these harmless animals accidentally become overturned by waves, or become trapped in jetties or behind bulkheads. Horseshoe crabs are vulnerable when their soft undersides are exposed to the sun and are easy targets for predators. Thousands of horseshoe crabs die each season due to stranding on beaches.
Please let us know if you are interested in this inspiring venture. By helping us to actively return Horseshoe Crabs to their proper side and assess the numbers on the beaches, you will be help the ecosystem as a whole. It's a great chance to make a difference! More information is available at reTURNtheFavorNJ.org or by contacting us directly. New volunteers should plan to take part in one of two training sessions being offered: April 20 at the Wetlands Institute (6-8 pm) or April 29 at the Bayshore Center in Bivalve (10 am -12 pm). Our beaches are closed beaches, meaning no access during daylight hours between May 7 - June 7, to accommodate the feeding shorebirds. Monitoring during this period will require late evening/night walks. We will also host two public walks on June 9 (1-3 pm) and June 16 (9-11 am), starting with a short training session at the Center for Research and Education (CRE) along Rt. 47 in Goshen, before proceeding to one of our three beaches. RSVP to the CMBO registrar your intent to volunteer - firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you'll join us!!
Cape May Bird Observatory
New Jersey Audubon