Cape Clasp is on a mission to #makewaves for marine life causes, and that includes spreading awareness about our ocean friends! This week, we're focusing on the prehistoric horseshoe crab that can be found right on Cape Cod.
Despite its name, it's not a crab
The horseshoe crab's name can be deceiving because it's not a crab! It's a type of arachnid, which is a class of anthropods that includes scorpions and ticks. They are more closely related to spiders than they are to crabs and lobsters. Their name comes from their rounded shape, which resembles the shoe on a horse's foot 🐎
They're considered "living fossils"
Horseshoe crabs are older than dinosaurs and have remained practically unchanged for at least 445 million years! They are almost identical to their ancestors because their bodies are effectively built for survival 💪 They survived during an era when dinosaurs and other marine invertebrates became extinct.
They spend most of their time deep underwater
Most of the year, horseshoe crabs can be found deep underwater using their 10 legs to walk along the ocean floor 🌊 Once spring begins, they emerge from the depths and visit the shallows to mate along the beach. Each female horseshoe crab can lay more than 90,000 eggs per mating season.
Their populations are at risk
You might be less likely to see horseshoe crabs these days due to overharvesting. Horseshoe crabs have mainly been harvested for their blue, copper-based blood, which is used by the biomedical industry to produce a valuable clotting agent 💉 Aside from harvesting, they are at risk due to habitat loss caused by coastal erosion and armoring.
They're not dangerous
Due to their shape, horseshoe crabs can be mistaken for rays or skates, but they are harmless. Their tails, formally known as "telsons," are not barbed or poisonous. They primarily use their tail to steer themselves along the ocean floor. When underwater, they can also use their tails to flip themselves over when they get stuck on their backs 🙃
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