Sunday, May 30, 2010

Horseshoe Crabbyness: The BP Oil Spill-Horseshoe Crab-Shorebird Connection

One last ... (I think) ... item from that marine field trip a few weeks ago.

We saw a lot of horseshoe crabs on our two trips. Most were coupled up, with smaller males clinging to larger females so they would be there when she spawned.

The students were fascinated at these "crabs that aren't really crabs". Horseshoe crabs have lots of icky, creepy, graspy, fluttery, clicky, pointy parts, so the kids were a bit hesitant to touch anything but the long telson at first.

Well, ... not just at first, but throughout the day, even after I demonstrated that they can't hurt you.

This pair hooked right back up again shortly after our encounter so all you Merostomata romantics out there can just relax.




This is an animal whose next generation could be devastated by the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
As the oil reaches the beaches, it will coat the sand either preventing spawning or killing eggs that are incubating in the sand near the high tide line.

Just one more innocent at risk.

The seabirds will get all the attention on the news, due to the "pretty" factor, but the "uglies" will be devastated also ... probably in much worse ways.

Birders should be VERY concerned about horseshoe crabs and the oil spill of course. The eggs of horseshoe crabs and the tiny amphipods that live in great abundance in shoreline wrack (washed up seaweed and seagrasses) are the fuel that powers countless migrating shorebirds.


The oil has the potential to remove both of these things as a food source.

Shore birds may very well be "countless" next year.

You get my drift?

19 comments:

threecollie said...

Even from so far away the horror just goes on and on. Because of "knowing" you and several other favorite Gulf Coast bloggers...and having visited for a few weeks when I graduated from high school... I love your area vicarious. I am so sad....

Florida Beach Basics said...

you know, if course, that the light at the end of the tunnel you mentioned in your previous post is ... a train.

last summer, for your summer vacation, you attended a workshop. any great plans for this year?

edifice rex said...

It just makes me sick to think what has happened to our Gulf. I used to enjoy at least one trip a year down. Of course, I can't help but feel somewhat like I have 'oil on my hands' so to speak for participating in that industry. *Sighhh*

Woodduck said...

Keep on with your work, observations and teaching...thanks. This oil spill is horrible.

kathy a. said...

this is really a slo-mo disaster. we may not begin having a good idea of the extent of the damage for weeks, and it may keep gushing for months; the effects will doubtless be felt for years. where ever this massive amount of oil ends up -- which might be lots of places -- it doesn't belong there.

Kimberlee said...

I love that you give your students so many opportunities for hands-on, up-close-and-personal learning. I remember coming upon horseshoe crabs when I was young and thinking they were scary and must be dangerous. Too bad I didn't have a class like yours back then!

amarkonmywall said...

Damselflies, horseshoe crabs-mating going on all over the web today. It's so painful to think about the impact of this oil spill, it's such an unmitigated disaster. Every indication is that this will have terrible implications for many seasons to come. So, changing the subject, I LOVE the post below about your final days of this school year. I know it's a really over-the-top high pressure week for you but the material is so rich (and oogy). It's so cool that you find ways to make it meaningful at all levels of learning. And thank you for the lovely list. ;-)

cndymkr / jean said...

The oil spill is such a sad and seemingly endless horror story. When we will learn?

Floridacracker said...

3Collie,
It's so frustrating isn't it?

Marge,
LOL! true.
I do have some training closer to home, nothing as dreamy as the Harbor Branch experience tho.


Annie,
We all have some, but WE are not the ones who should have had a contingency plan. THAT would be BP and DC.


Woodduck,
Thanks! Will do.


Kathy A,
Slo Mo is right. It will be a long time fixin.


Kimberlee,
Hey! I hope this is a sign that you can read PF again!
Thanks for the support Teach!


Vicki,
Ya know I could have gone much longer on that list doncha? Thanks for the kind words on that previous post.
We ride the whirlwind for about 8 more days.


Jean,
I think this may be one hell of a lesson.

roger said...

i have seen that word "wrack," possibly in an english novel, and never bothered to check the meaning, tho the context indicated the seashore. thanks.

Dani said...

This is gonna be pain like we've never known before.

Felicia said...

The whole situation in the gulf is unspeakably tragic. I don't even want to think of how long it will take the already fragile ecosystem there to recover. There's going to be a world of pain for all of us.

nfmgirl said...

I only hope that there is some "Noah's ark-ing" going on, and they are stockpiling a large and varied enough selection of DNA to try to repopulate the numbers of all of these affected species in the future. I fear the devastation to come.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Not a good thing: even worse is start of Hurricane Season.

Aunty Belle said...

aw, go on an rant, FC, ya has a dern good reason.

Have ya seen any oil yet on yore local shore areas?

Thunder Dave said...

It's so hard to even imagine how bad the outcome is going to be from the spill, especially since the leak has yet to be stopped! I anticipate as much damage to the undersea life as we'll see from the damage on shore!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the insight and comments y'all.
This thing just keeps getting worse.

Alan T. said...

Watching this spill on the live feed gives me such a horrible feeling of helplessness. The impact will be around for multiple generations to come. Did we not think this would ever happen? My boys watch it on tv in disbelief. I hope at the very least this causes debate about drilling this way and takes the blinders off to how dangerous this is for all.
Cousin,
Alan

Floridacracker said...

Alan T,
Hey Cuz! Good points!Thanks for commenting and Welcome to Pure Florida.