Every May and June, the largest population of spawning horseshoe crabs
lay their small, green eggs on sandy beaches along the Delaware Bay.
But the story has changed: Overharvesting of horseshoe crabs for bait has reduced not only the population of these unique creatures, but also the number of eggs available for shorebirds, contributing to a drastic reduction in shorebird populations. When this loss of food at a stopover place is combined with other threats, including human disturbance, shorebirds struggle to survive.
Students take action with art: After learning about the amazing story of shorebirds and horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay, students from local schools were invited to use art as a tool for conservation. Up to 30 pieces of artwork, some of which are shown here, will be used as educational signage along Delaware and New Jersey beaches. These signs will help people understand how they can be a respectful visitor by sharing the beach with the birds and horseshoe crabs, as well as encouraging more people to get involved in conservation actions. At the same time, thousands of hungry shorebirds head north from South America to breed in the Arctic. After flying the longest leg of their migration, the birds arrive on the bay shore ready to rest and fatten up on the tiny eggs.
Thanks to Celebrate Delaware Bay and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network for bringing this exhibit to DMNH again this year. WHSRN’s mission is to conserve shorebirds and their habitats through a network of key sites across the Americas. In 1986, Delaware Bay was the first site recognized by WHSRN because of the critical role it plays as a stopover site. Celebrate Delaware Bay is an initiative of the Executive Office of WHSRN.