To the Editor:
It’s almost spring and that means it’s peak mating season for horseshoe crabs. Help biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) gather valuable information about these crustaceans by reporting sightings on an online survey that can be found here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/e7946f74bcda43128eea82690b95047a.
Horseshoe crabs mate year-round, and it is most common to see mating groups along the shore in March and April. Beachgoers will likely have the best luck spotting horseshoe crabs around high tide, within a few days of a new or full moon.
Reporting horseshoe crab sightings provides important information about habitat use, population distribution and environmental conditions for spawning to FWC marine biologists. Although horseshoe crabs have existed for more than 450 million years, scientists are still learning about Florida populations. Public sighting information helps FWC researchers target spawning beaches for the Florida Horseshoe Crab Watch Program, an initiative to collect scientifically accurate data throughout the state.
If you see a horseshoe crab on its back, you can help it flip back over by gently picking it up (holding both sides of the shell), turning it over, and releasing it back into the water. Simple actions like this help conserve horseshoe crabs and the many other species that depend on them.
The FWC asks the public to report sightings through one of several options. Visit MyFWC.com/HorseshoeCrabs and go to “Report Your Nesting Horseshoe Crab Sighting” to complete the survey. Sightings can also be reported on the FWC Reporter application, free to download on Apple or Android smartphones or tablets from the App Store and Google Play. You can also report findings via email at Horseshoe@MyFWC.com or by phone at (866) 252-9326.
Michelle Kerr, FWC