Did I get your attention?
Do you know what Limulidae are? They are important to you.
I saw a pair mating today. I showed about thirty or forty other people the same pair today. I made it clear I wasn’t touching them and we were just looking. They were moving slightly. They were trying to burrow in the peat to stay cool from the warming sun. They came up high on the sandy shore, mating, burying their eggs.
They are older than dinosaurs. They are living fossils. They are feared because of the way they look. People abuse them. People use them for bait. They are somewhere between threatened and endangered.
They do nothing to us. They are gentle. I can stick my hand where their legs are and they will do nothing to me or anyone else.
Yet we also need them. We need them for their blue, copper-filled blood. (Our blood is red from the hemoglobin.) We need them to aerate the ocean bottoms for us and to control populations of smaller creatures.
Science uses them, collects their blood, to help identify bacteria in liquids and to add to IV (saline) bags in the hospital. They often do not survive having their blood being collected.
Barnacles like to tag along for the ride on their shells. This is a symbiotic relationship. A symbiotic relationship is where nobody in a relationship is hurt. (Think sharks and the feeder fish that swim alongside eating the leftover food bits.)
They use their tail for navigation and to flip themselves over if they get stuck on their back. It doesn’t hurt anything or anyone.
They lay thousands of eggs but only a fraction may make it to adulthood.
It breaks my heart when people tell me they see people abusing these animals. They are so gentle.
This is part of what I do. I show people animals and places they may not know about. I spend a lot of hours volunteering during the late spring giving tours of a local salt tidal marsh to local fourth grade students and their adult counterparts. Most people who come down, adults included, have no idea what they drive past each day and how vital it is to the area in which we live.
The scary part is many people haven’t been learning what an ecosystem is and why it is important.
What am I teaching back? Learn about things and animals that scare you or you don’t know about. Go out into the community. Go out into the world. Find out why things are important. Explore. Learn. Grow. Share.
I’m there because I love it, I love the horseshoe crabs, I love the fiddler crabs. I love the smell. I love the view. I just love it and don’t want to see it disappear.
Long live the Limulidae!