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?