The walk back to the mainland after our snorkeling adventure at Hagen's Cove was full of fascinating critters cruising the now exposed tidal flats. One of the most common and easiest to spot animals was the horseshoe crab.
There were big'uns, little 'uns, and molts left over from little 'uns becoming bigger 'uns.
By now you are probably aware that horseshoe crabs are not crabs at all, but more closely related to scorpions and their kin. They are Arthropods of course, and like real crabs, they have lots of jointed clacky parts that move in the most amazing ways.
They have been around for a really long time ... essentially unchanged. Apparently they are waiting to see if this whole evolution thing is worth pursuing.
This may be why there are only 4 species of horseshoe crabs on the planet.
Why change when you have a face like this?
The baby above is exploring Emma's gentle hands after she plucked him from the shallows for a visit.
You can find out all you would ever want to know about horseshoe crabs with a quick Gooooogly search, so I won't go into the biology too much, except to say if you love shorebirds, you need to love the horseshoe crab.
Their mass spawnings on beaches up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts stock the larder that stokes the shorebird's engines during their migrations.
Battered, but alive.
This horseshoe crab is alive, but missing some parts. He was plenty active so he should be able to survive a few missing appendages, and being an arthropod, he's able to regenerate those parts over time and molts.
As I was walking and gawking at all the intertidal critters I love, I spotted what I thought was just a single horseshoe crab buried almost completely in the sand. As is my way, I had to touch it, hold it, and generally mess with it.
What I thought was one turned out to be more ... check out the video to see what I found.
Today, I'm heading out with Bear and some mostly grown kids to the Gulf of Florida again.
I'm sure that should bring out a post or two ... you know how Bear is ...Apparently he travelled out to Missouri yesterday while I wasn't looking.
I'm gonna need a longer leash ...