Horseshoe crab spawning in Delaware Bay
   
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Horseshoe crab

Horseshoe crab during the spawning season

 

 

Delaware Bay is one of the most important spawning grounds for the Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus). I therefore visited the region several times in the spring of 2001 when I lived in Baltimore, Maryland, looking for this ancient species. I drove to the Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey, to look for the living fossils and other wildlife, and observed many individuals toward the end of their egg-laying season in May, 2001. Worldwide there are four species of Horseshoe crabs.

Cape May is also known to be a good birding location, another reason to visit the area. Cape May is situated about 2.5 hours drive from Baltimore.

 

 

Horseshoe crab

Back towards the sea

 

Cape May Nature Reserve

Sunray Beach Preserve. Nice place to spot spawning Horseshoe crabs

Horseshoe crab

Spawning horseshoe crabs partly submerged in the beach sand

 

Horseshoe crab

Aftermath carnige

Horseshoe crab

Many individuals turned onto their backs by waves die because they often cannot right themselves

 

Horseshoe crab

Underside view

Horseshoe crab

Some have heavy load of attached seashells. Can be full of barnacles and other seashells. This one is decaying

 

Laughing gulls

The spawning season is primetime for the shorebirds which feeds off the eggs. Here Laughing gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Feeding frency

Shorebird feeding frency. Shorebirds gather in large quantities to feed off the horseshoe crab eggs

 

Feeding frency

Feeding frency

Sandpipers

Here at least two species of sandpipers. White-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) (the two together) and Semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)

 

Laughing gull

Laughing gulls

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

 

Shorebirds

More sandpipers

Marshland

Cape May marshes

 

Tricolored heron

Tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor)