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Art by Barry Kent MacKay
Each spring Horseshoe Crabs, a primitive creature that is really not a
crab and is characterized by an odd, horse-hoof shaped “carapace” covering
the front part of the body (the legs are underneath) come up on the beaches
of the mid-Atlantic U.S. to lay their eggs and mate. This can coincide with
the northward migration of Red Knots, a species of shorebird once common,
but now increasingly rare, sad to say. Knots nest in the far north, even
above the arctic circle, and spend winters as far south as southern South
America. There are similar subspecies in Eurasia. At times the knots gather
in substantial numbers, often along with other species, including Ruddy
Sadly, greedy humans have taken so many of the eggs of the horseshoe
crabs to use for bait or fertilizer that the population of these fascinating
creatures is in decline, and there was a subsequent collapse in the numbers
of Red Knots, since the eggs are very important to them during this stage in
their life cycle.
Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
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