Cook’s Beach Horseshoe Crabs

We went to Cook’s Beach twice during the  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival.  It’s a Delaware Bay beach and there were lots of horseshoe crabs both times. They were there to mate and lay eggs. There were groups of males gathered around females all along the beach.

2019 05 IMG_8308.jpg

Sometimes the groups are tossed around as a group in the surf.

The creatures are so odd looking with their tank-like shell and spikey tail….and the leggy creature under the shell.

2019 05 IMG_8316.jpg

Sometimes they are legs-up in the sand and use their tails to turn themselves over!

The crabs sometimes get high up on the beach behind rocks…tangled with other crabs. Hopefully they will find their way out and back to the sea or over to the beach to find mates.

2019 05 IMG_8375.jpg

They are awkward on land and at the edge of the sea.

2019 05 IMG_8392.jpg

But more maneuverable than I expected. I took a series of pictures that shows a horseshoe crab making tracks heading back to sea.

In general – the older the crabs, the more barnacles. Evidently the barnacles are not just on the top of the shell either.

Some of the crabs were dug into the sand until the next high tide…and some had been tagged.

2019 05 IMG_8850.jpg

Tomorrow I’ll post about the birds we saw at Cook’s Beach…enjoying a feast of horseshoe crab eggs before continuing their migration.