Saturday, May 26, 2012

Afternoon Horseshoe Crab Tagging!

My family and I spent the afternoon, more like a half-hour due to thunder, tagging horseshoe crabs at Sherwood State Park in Westport, CT.  We met in the parking lot for the Park Nature Center with members of Sacred Heart University's Project Limulus who gave a brief introduction and provided instruction.  Project Limulus is a horseshoe crab research project that relies on collecting raw field data such as appearance and size.  Our group did manage to collect and tag some crabs before the thunder.

Horseshoe crabs have been around for well over 300 million years which means they were around when trilobites still roamed the oceans and somehow made through the mass extinctions at the end of the Permian (252 mya) and the more famous but less deadly Cretaceous (65 mya).  They have green blood as they use hemocyanin which is copper-based to carry oxygen rather than hemoglobin which is iron-based like most other animals on Earth.  Another interesting tidbit about horseshoe crab blood is that it contains special cells (ameoboctes) which attach to bacteria and prevent it from entering the body.  Anyway, the activity was both fun and educational.  Thanks Project Limulus.

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