Meet the NJ volunteers who help rescue horseshoe crabs
It is springtime in New Jersey, and that means it is mating season for horseshoe crabs.
For millions of years, these creatures have come up onto the shore to lay their eggs and mate and then make their way back into the ocean.
The crabs’ instincts tell them to expect flat sandy beaches. But now the beaches are virtual death traps for crabs thanks to shore debris left over from humans. The crabs sometimes get stuck or flipped over and cannot free themselves in order to get back into the ocean.
This is where the volunteers from reTURN the Favor NJ come in. The nonprofit group uses volunteers to walk around the beach freeing horseshoe crabs.
“We have the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world. So we started a program…to get volunteers out to rescue those crabs so that each crab that comes up on the shore can make it back,” says Laura Chamberlain.
News 12 New Jersey caught up with volunteers from Haddonfield Memorial High School, who all said that they were happy to do their part.
“It feels like we're saving people after a natural disaster, only it's horseshoe crabs,” says student Molly Parks.
“It's very rewarding because it's not very hard to just flip over a horseshoe crab, but it makes their world,” says student Gillian Rozenfeld.
With crab populations plummeting in recent decades due to overfishing and habitat loss, advocates say that every little bit helps to make sure the horseshoe crabs are always able to get back into the ocean after mating.
reTURN the Favor NJ says that in the six years that volunteers have been helping, they have saved more than 500,000 crabs. They say that they think they will top 600,000 this year.