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If you see horseshoe crabs having sex, FWC wants to know

The prehistoric creatures are critically important for the food chain – and for your health.
Credit: AP
In this May 8, 2014 photo, two horseshoe crabs head back to the water after mating on a beach in Middle Township N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — It’s difficult to wrap your head around just how old they are. Horseshoe crabs started crawling the earth long before the dinosaurs – at least 445 million years ago, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

But, it’s not just their age that makes them so interesting. Horseshoe crabs are actually a closer relative to spiders than crabs. Their eggs are a crucial food source for fish and migrating birds.

And, their blood is more valuable than gold.

Bloomberg reported last year that blood extracted from horseshoe crabs sells for up to $60,000 a gallon because of its critical importance to the pharmaceutical industry.

FWC explains it contains a unique substance that clumps around tiny amounts of bacterial toxins, so the blood is used to test for contamination in almost all injectable drugs and vaccines.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2000 file photo, technician Tom Bentz prepares a group of horseshoe crabs for bleeding at a lab in Chincoteague Island, Va. Environmental regulators studying the harvesting of horseshoe crabs that are drained of some of their blood for biomedical use say they need to get a firmer handle on how many die as part of the process. The prehistoric-looking crabs typically are taken to labs, are drained of about a third of their blood and then are released alive into the same bodies of water where they were found, a spokeswoman for the commission said on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

That’s why the survival of this ancient species is so vital – and why the FWC wants to know where they’re mating.

The agency is asking anyone who spots horseshoe crabs getting busy on the beach to report the sighting in an email to horseshoe@MyFWC.com or through the FWC Reporter app. You can also call 866-252-9326.

You’re most likely to see them around high tide within three days of a new or full moon.

Information provided to FWC is compiled by scientists to map out the population. Horseshoe crabs can be found all along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from Mexico to Maine.

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