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Thousands of horseshoe crabs perish
Dead or dying crabs caught as rains block escape route

By JAMES MERRIWEATHER / The News Journal
06/09/2005

The pile of dead horseshoe crabs kept getting bigger and bigger.

The crabs were trapped Wednesday after being washed from the Delaware Bay over flood-prone Port Mahon Road and into a slough in far eastern Kent County.

That wasn't all that unusual -- it happens a lot at high tide during horseshoe crab spawning season.

But this time there was no escape because drainage pipes, about a half-mile west of the Port Mahon fishing pier, were filled with sand by recent storms, depriving the displaced crabs of a route back to the bay.

State officials said the result was perhaps 2,000 dead and dying crabs in the shallow muddy water of the slough, part of 5,000 acres of mostly state-owned tidal marsh on the road's north side.

"It has happened here before, but the crabs, for the most part, were able to get back," said Stewart Michels, a fisheries scientist who spearheaded a last-ditch effort Wednesday to save as many crabs as possible.

The rescue effort -- manned early on by a nine-inmate crew from the Central Violation of Probation Center in Dover -- did not get under way until about noon.

"I think it was just hard to get a crew together," said Maria Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Judging by occasional bursts of salty language, the inmates were not particularly thrilled by their role in the salvage effort. They typically would check crabs for signs of life, grab as many as six live ones by their tails, walk across Port Mahon Road and, using a fling-for-distance approach, return them to the bay. There was nothing dainty about the process.

"What's this all about, sir?" one inmate asked at one point.

"To save some crabs," Michels responded. "They're very valuable to migratory shorebirds."

A day earlier, environmental groups had called for an end to the Delaware Bay horseshoe crab harvest, and top regulators in Delaware and New Jersey signaled that they might heed the call. Migratory shorebirds, particularly the endangered red knot, feed on the crab's eggs during a 6,500-mile migration from South America to the arctic.

The inmates left in two shifts, with the last five departing about two hours after the rescue began. Michels became a one-man rescue squad before he was eventually joined by Wayne Lehman, who manages all state wildlife areas in Kent County, and Ken Hurley, a conservationist with the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Commercial fisherman Charles Auman, who uses horseshoe crabs as bait for eel and conch, had mocked environmentalists Tuesday for what he considered an attempt to deprive him of his livelihood with a total ban on harvesting crabs.

He noted that countless numbers of crabs die natural deaths -- becoming disoriented on land and unable to find their way back to the water or ending up on their backs and unable to right themselves.

"These radicals would rather see the crabs crawl up on a beach and die than see a fisherman get them," Auman said.

Contact James Merriweather at 678-4273 or [email protected].

[ 06-09-2005, 01:42 PM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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A-Men Bill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They must have been at a protest demonstration for the inhumane treatment of wild growing Kentucky Blue grass in residential communities...

[ 06-09-2005, 06:49 PM: Message edited by: Gilly21 ]
 

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Thanks Nightstrikes I'm gonna make sure the right people see this.
 

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fishpicker
they already know, it has been brought to there attention many times you would think they would let us use them for bait they just shut me down yesterday afternoon for two weeks it really sucks, but at least i caught a couple before they shut us down!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2005


Contact: Peter G. Boger
(609) 984-1795


NEW JERSEY IMPOSES EMERGENCY MORATORIUM ON HORSESHOE CRAB HARVEST

Two-Week Ban Will Allow Late Shorebirds to Feed and
Allow for Data Review of Horseshoe Crab Population


(05/74) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced an emergency moratorium on the hand harvesting of horseshoe crabs in New Jersey to allow late arriving shorebirds time to feed on horseshoe crab eggs.

?The stunning decline in red knot numbers combined with the late arrival of these shorebirds this year makes clear that temporary emergency action is needed to protect these threatened natural resources,? Commissioner Campbell said. ?New Jersey will do everything in our authority to halt the decline of the red knot while protecting the horseshoe crab population and fishery.?

The emergency two-week moratorium takes effect immediately and temporarily halts New Jersey?s horseshoe crab harvest season, which officially began yesterday. The season will reopen on June 23 and run through the normal closing date of August 15. Fishermen will still be permitted to catch up to the maximum 150,000-crab quota.

Surveys of the Delaware Bay noted the arrival this week of more than 3,000 red knots ? critically threatened shorebirds that depend on horseshoe crab eggs to sustain their flights to the Arctic. These birds arrived much later in the season than usual. The temporary ban on horseshoe crab harvesting will allow the birds unencumbered access to feed and to proceed on their annual migration. The ban will also provide New Jersey time to obtain and to review all available data on the status of the Delaware Bay horseshoe crab population.

Delaware Bay?s beaches are the principal egg-laying grounds for the world's largest concentration of horseshoe crabs, and they attract the Western Hemisphere?s second largest spring concentration of migrating shorebirds. Scientists this year have noted the lowest concentration of horseshoe crab eggs ever on the beaches ? approximately 1,500 eggs per square meter down from approximately 4,000 eggs per square meter just five years ago. The red knot population in Delaware Bay has declined from 95,000 in 1989 to around 15,000 in recent years.

New Jersey is calling for the emergency federal endangered species listing of the red knot. New Jersey will also work with Delaware to coordinate baywide efforts to protect the populations of red knots and horseshoe crabs. The state is also examining the possibility of providing some financial assistance to fishermen if harvests continue to be limited in the future.

The emergency rulemaking was filed today after Acting Governor Richard J. Codey certified the DEP?s Statement of Imminent Peril.

###

Related Links

Bureau of Marine Fisheries
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/marfhome.htm
Help Identify Horseshoe Crab Spawning Habitat
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/news/2005/hchabitat.htm
Red Knot
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/somjune.htm
 

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Hell, time to open a season on gulls to cull em a bit....they actually tread up "burried" eggs to eat them! Along with attacking young ducklings & birds "weakend via migration" for food!
By zippin some gulls.... the red knots should have a much,much better chance IMHO, food wise/murder wise..& the sobs will have the fear of man re-inforced into the species (totally un natural for any species) Hmm....
 
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