Environmental Groups Seek Endangered Status for American Horseshoe Crab

  • 16 Feb 2024

On 12th February, environmental organizations rallied for the endangered species protection of the American horseshoe crab, a "living fossil" facing population decline due to various human-induced threats.

Key Points

  • Population Decline: Horseshoe crab populations have drastically declined, with spawning numbers down two-thirds since 1990, primarily in the Delaware Bay estuary.
  • Ecological Impact: Declines in horseshoe crab populations have cascading effects on other marine species, including the rufa red knot, a migratory shorebird, whose threatened status is linked to horseshoe crab harvests.
  • Ancient Creatures at Risk: Horseshoe crabs, among the oldest living creatures on Earth with a lineage dating back 450 million years, face threats from human activities despite their harmless nature.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Impact: Pharmaceutical companies harvest horseshoe crabs for their blue blood, used to test drugs and medical devices. Despite regulations, a significant percentage of harvested crabs die during blood extraction.
  • Habitat Loss and Climate Change: Horseshoe crabs suffer from habitat loss due to oceanfront development, pollution, and coastal erosion, compounded by climate change-induced factors such as sea-level rise and mass die-offs.
  • Urgent Action Needed: Environmentalists emphasize the urgent need for protection measures to safeguard the survival of horseshoe crabs and their ecosystems, highlighting the significant threat posed by human activities.