A Crab with No Lucky Horseshoe

While kayaking in search of dolphins this morning, I tossed my beloved Canon camcorder into the Atlantic. (The F-bomb that followed could be heard in South Africa, a fact I am not proud of.) Since I can’t share the osprey, seagulls, terns and jumping fish we encountered, I’ve dug through my Avalon archives and found another critter to talk about, the horseshoe crab. Since I’m feeling a bit crabby and in need of some fresh, new luck, this seems appropriate.

Horseshoe Crabs

We found these horseshoe crab shells on the Jersey Shore in early September last year. (Click each photo for a larger image.) Initially, my nephew, nieces and I thought the crabs had died. It wasn’t until an educational boat ride through the salt marsh that we learned these guys and gals were still alive – somewhere. (If only the same could be said for my camcorder.) They had simply molted and left this one-size-too-small armor behind.

Horseshoe crabs molt at least 10 times in their 20+ year lives. In fact, they go through 4 of these molts within the egg. While the crabs look as if they are related to crustaceans (think shrimp and lobster), they are, instead, closely related to ancient and extinct trilobites. Growing up in Western NY, my friends and I often found trilobite fossils in 18 Mile Creek. I’m as fascinated with these modern day relatives as I was the long gone ancestors.

Taking a lesson from the long-lived horseshoe crab, I’ll be sure to get my next camcorder protective, waterproof armor. Next year, I’ll be prepared to film the crabs underwater. For now, I’m off to gargle salt water – to clean my filthy mouth out.

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