Against All Odds, Celebrating the Horseshoe Crab

by Elizabeth Hieb, Carmichael Lab

horseshoe crab in the sand

Today, June 20, 2023, marks the 4th International Horseshoe Crab Day. It’s a day to increase education and awareness for the four existing horseshoe crab species and to highlight conservation efforts for these species around the world.

Horseshoe crab populations are decreasing globally, largely due to threats from humans including overharvesting and habitat degradation or loss. The theme for this year’s International Horseshoe Crab Day, “Against all odds: Stories of coexistence with horseshoe crabs,” aims to showcase how humans can share our world with horseshoe crabs and protect these animals that have survived “against all odds” for hundreds of millions of years.

As part of this theme, stories of coexistence were compiled from more than 50 horseshoe crab advocates from nine countries. Stories include first experiences with horseshoe crabs, current conservation efforts, and suggestions on how to live with horseshoe crabs without conflict.

We hope this year’s celebration will bring awareness to the amazing horseshoe crab and help work toward its survival for future generations!

Facts about horseshoe crabs:

  • Horseshoe crabs are known as living fossils because these animals have changed very little since their first existence on earth more than 400 million years ago.
  • They are an important part of our marine and coastal ecosystems, and their eggs provide a critical food source for numerous species of migratory birds.
  • You may owe your life to a horseshoe crab! Horseshoe crab blood contains a special enzyme called limulus amebocyte lysate, or LAL. LAL is used to test medicines, vaccines, implants, and other medical devices for bacterial endotoxins, ensuring that medical equipment is safe for people.