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  • 26 June, 2020

  • 2 Min Read

Horse Shoe Crab

Horse Shoe Crab

Horse Shoe Crab is a marine chelicerate arthropod living in shallow coastal waters on soft sandy or muddy bottom and spawns (release or deposit eggs) mostly on intertidal beaches at summer spring high tides. They have existed since the time of the dinosaurs and are important ecosystem engineers and predators of small organisms.

Their ecological function is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife. Their large hard shell serves as a microhabitat for many other species such as sponges, mud crabs, mussels and snails. It is regarded as a marine ‘living fossil’.

It is in Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under which the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offence.

Recently, IUCN has decided to observe the first-ever International Horseshoe Crab Day on 20th June 2020.

There are four extant horseshoe crab species:

  1. The American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) is along the eastern coast of the USA and in the Gulf of Mexico. (IUCN - Vulnerable)
  2. The tri-spine horseshoe crab (IUCN - Endangered)
  3. The coastal horseshoe crab ( IUCN – Not Listed)
  4. The mangrove horseshoe crab (IUCN – Not Listed)

The last three are Indo-pacific species found in the coastal waters of India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. Odisha is their largest habitat in India.

Source: IE

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