Cape Cod by sunset

That weekend we spent on the cape, fourteen days ago. Mentally trying to prepare for the long cold season ahead by soaking in each day of heat and sunshine available. It's always nostalgic for us to visit a beautiful beach, especially at sunset. Feels like we are meant to be out there on the water, and not on land.

Those prehistoric horseshoe crabs are one of the few living creatures that have outlived the dinosaurs. A species 350 million years old, they are considered living fossils. I read that they come up to shore for mating, but there seem to be another reason to why so many of them were laying dead on the beach.

Apparently it is a very lucrative global business, to harvest horseshoe crabs and their milky blue blood for biomedical research (their blood has no hemoglobin, but copper which makes it blue).

Harvesting horseshoe crab blood (which goes for up to $15.000 per quart!) involves collecting and bleeding the animals, and then releasing them back into the sea. Mortality is correlated with both the amount of blood extracted from an individual animal, and the stress experienced during handling and transportation. Estimates of mortality rates following blood harvesting is up to 30%.

So that seem to be one uncomfortable reason why so many of them can be found dead on the beach.

Because someone stole their blood.
Image from the Atlantic.

Given that 250.000 of them are harvested yearly, it is not a surprise they are an endangered species. Imagine to have survived a few hundred million years in nature but you'll get extincted by human beings in just a couple hundred years. Human nature in a nutshell.