Horseshoe crab blood saves lives. Can we protect these animals from ourselves?
Humans rely on the animal’s blood for lab testing, but the full repercussions of the industry are still not understood.
Delaware BayFor such a resilient species, the horseshoe crab appears surprisingly helpless.
Beached upon a remote Delaware shoreline after scrambling ashore to mate, one animal’s 10 lobster-like legs wriggle in the air. The crab curls its spear-like tail toward its shell again and again in an attempt to right itself, without success. Soon, it’s exhausted.
Its tail slowly droops toward the sand.
The sandy beach is studded with dozens more crabs in similar predicaments. Some will be rescued by the tide or a passing human; others will die.
But even those that survive may soon face heightened pressures because of the growing global demand for their blue blood, which is harvested for biomedical use worldwide. The arachnids’ toxin-sensitive blood is the only known natural source