Horseshoe Crab

Delaware State Marine Animal


Horseshoe crab

Horseshoe crab; photo by Amanda on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Horseshoe Crab

The horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) was designated as the official marine animal symbol for Delaware in 2002. Delaware Bay is the world's largest spawning ground for horseshoe crabs. Considered living fossils, these ancient creatures predate most species on the planet, including flying insects and dinosaurs (they have been around for 450 million years).

Horseshoe crabs are an essential food source for migratory birds on the East coast and are also important to humankind - they are used in vision studies (their 10 eyes have a structure similar to the human eye); their blood protects them from infection and a compound it contains is used to detect bacterial poisons in some human medications; and a natural polymer found in the horseshoe crab’s shell (chitin) is used to make bandages.



The Horseshoe Crab Spawn