By Mary Jane Dodd ~
If you walk along the beach of South Riverside Drive in Shark River Hills (or locations in Neptune City, Belmar and Wall,) you may start noticing ‘holes’ with drag marks around them that come out of, then return back, to the water. In the Shark River Bay and other local waters, these prehistoric beings (who have existed for around 400 million years) come ashore during the new and full moons of May and June. I’m not an authority – you can look to the shark river clean-up coalition (https://www.sharkriver.org) and the littoral society (https://www.littoralsociety.org/) for additional information.
Here’s an article from NJ Fish & Wildlife: https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/artmarinehourly_hcsurvey.htm
Why bring it up? Because they are ancient, and it’s an ancient ritual that happens at night, so people don’t always even know. We can assist in their tagging as well. Also, we can help those that are stranded – sometimes they get stuck on their backs. They need our help in this case, and all you have to do is flip him/her back over. Despite the hardtail and multiple legs with small claws that may appear intimidating, they can’t hurt you.
In one study, 10% of adult horseshoe crabs died from stranding. I mention it as well to create awareness. Awareness of this special ritual and how we can be more mindful of the life that exists in our waters. Keep the dogs away from the nests – while the eggs maybe 20 cm deep, some might not be.
It is illegal to remove horseshoe crabs – dead or living – from the wild.
You can see these nests along almost the entirety of the beach on South Riverside Drive.
It’s an incredible place we live in, eagles, ospreys and terns hunting in the waters, migratory birds, beings older than dinosaurs coming ashore in the spring – may we all care for the ecosystem, so we can care for them.
It’s also so nice to see that we’re all picking up as much trash as possible – and looking to reduce the number of plastic bags and straws we use.