Horseshoe crabs are a good species to introduce to kids. They are both frighteningly strange looking and dinosaur-interesting.  In the beaches near Paradelle, they are likely to be encountered on our beaches.

The spring migration of many species of shorebirds coincides with the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Bird counts of migratory shorebirds show disturbing decreases in numbers, and those who study the migrations see a correlation shorebird population declines and horseshoe crab over-harvesting.

Horseshoe crabs have survived 300 million years of a changing planet, but may not survive human interference. Loss of habitat is a concern, but the use of the crabs as bait is possibly even more of a threat.

Crab Moon (Read and Wonder)A book can offer a nice pathway into understanding this species for young readers. Part story and part science lesson, Crab Moon (ages 5-9) is the story of seven-year-old Daniel and his mother who watch horseshoe crabs lay their eggs on the beach near their cottage in the moonlight of the full moon. I like that his mom remembers the seasonal spawning of horseshoe crabs on this same beach from her own childhood.

I like the story’s coda when Daniel finds “one last, lonely crab marooned upside down” and after some hesitation (horseshoe crabs are scary looking) he rights the crab and follows her back to the sea.

Two other books to share with kids are Harry Horseshoe Crab, A Tale of Crawly Creatures and  The Crab from Yesterday: The Life-Cycle of a Horseshoe Crab