Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

                           Horseshoe Crab Monitoring

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

 Horseshoe crabs coming up to Pikes Beach in Westhampton at night

I saw an amazing moment in nature during the last full moon down at Pikes Beach in Westhampton Dunes.

Hundreds of horseshoe crabs came out of the deep water into the shallows at the beach to mate.

The females lay their eggs and the males are right there to fertilize them.

Pikes Beach is supposed to be one of the most prolific breeding sites for horseshoe crabs on Long Island.

Volunteers helped staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension tag as many of the crabs as possible to collect data that will be used to manage this important species.

  The male fertilizes the eggs after the female lays them in the sand.

The CCE, the New York State Department of Environmental Control (DEC) and the Southampton Trustees are all working together to protect the crabs.
It's all part of the New York State Horseshoe Crab Monitoring network.

Horseshoe crabs are practically prehistoric because they haven't changed much in millions of years. They're often called living fossils because fossils of their ancestors date back millions of years - even before the dinosaurs.

They are important to coastal communities because their eggs are a major source of food for migrating birds. As much as 50-percent of the diet of many shore bird species consists of horseshoe crab eggs.

           More horseshoe crabs coming out of the ocean to mate.

Horseshoe crabs are also very important to the biomedical industry because of a substance in their blood called limulus amebocyte lysate. This substance, which coagulates in the presence of bacterial toxins, is used to test for sterility of medical equipment and nearly all intravenous drugs.

Research on the compound eyes of horseshoe crabs has also helped the medical industry better understand human vision.

They are also sold to aquariums and used by fisheries as bait along much of the east coast.

Unfortunately horseshoe crabs numbers are now declining. That's why in 1998 the horseshoe crab management plan was created by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries. It requires that all coastal states identify horseshoe crab nesting beaches so that biologists at the Fish and Wildlife research Institute can document and monitor nesting sites. 

 The mating crabs becomes like a frenzy, as males compete with each other to fertilize as many eggs as possible.

The night I was down at the beach seemed kind of magical with the full moon on the water and all the horseshoe crabs coming in.The water was practically boiling with them.

They paid no attention to me, as I stepped among them taking pictures, they were so intent on mating with each other, I could just as well have been invisible.

They are a weird looking animal, the giant shell with the long tail is all you see, so they look kind of faceless, until someone pointed out to me that their eyes are on top of the shell, one on either side, facing forward

They look more like giant bugs when you flip them over on their backs and that's kind of true, because they're more closely related to arachnids, like spiders than to crustaceans. But if you flip them over, be sure to flip them back or they will die exposed to the sun and prey to predators.

The Trustees were on site that night to make sure no crabs were taken as bait in order to give them plenty of opportunity to reproduce and then safely head back into the ocean. It was weird witnessing this unusual natural phenomena, as everyone else was driving past us heading to dinner or other activities. Nature still does its thing, even in the Hamptons.

            Horseshoe crabs mating by flashlight 
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