On June 16, 2015, at 11:30 PM, we arrived at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, CT. The moon was shining brightly through the clouds, and dozens of flashlight beams scanned along the sand and water. We had come to tag some of the hundreds of horseshoe crabs that would crawl ashore with the high tide that night. After about 30 minutes of walking and getting prepared for the tagging, we finally walked down to the waters edge to see how many crabs had decided to greet us. In some spots the whole ground was a living mass of crabs, as dozens slowly crawled out of the water. Everyone quickly snatched them up, hastily measuring them with a ruler, rating the quality of their shell, and finally poking a hole in their shell with a special tool. Then, we inserted the small round tags into the hole and wrote down all of the information. After just a few minutes, we had run out of tags and were just keeping count of the horde of crabs with tally marks. Occasionally, there would be piles of crabs four high in one area. The whole beach was completely covered in high grass and floating seaweed, making the crabs crawling out of the water seem even more mystical.
I have never seen a more alien looking creature than the horseshoe crab, and doubt I ever will see anything more unusual outside of a zoo. Their many crawling legs and long pointy tail swing around wildly when they are picked up, making measuring very difficult. Although the crabs are completely docile, I always felt a little uneasy about picking them up! Even though they don’t intentionally try to hurt anyone, I did get my finger stuck in the hinged midsection of the shell. The crab was very agitated and squirming around which caused extreme pain in my finger. After that I was a little more cautious about where I put my fingers!
The whole experience was very interesting and adventurous, and learning more about the crabs was also fascinating. I would love to see the crabs again, but I doubt that it could top this experience!