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April 6, 2000

For more information contact:
Peter J. Himchak at 609-748-2020

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife is encouraging the general public to assist in identifying horseshoe crab spawning habitat throughout the state this spring. Collecting information on spawning habitat is the result of an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crabs adopted in October 1998 and is required of all coastal states from Maine to Florida.

While many Delaware Bay beaches and some Atlantic coastal bay beaches are traditionally known to support horseshoe crab spawning from year to year, the Division would appreciate current, personal observations from individuals on current sites of spawning activity.

The horseshoe crab spawning season in the mid-Atlantic area usually occurs during May and June when large numbers of horseshoe crabs move onto sandy beaches to mate and lay eggs. Spawning habitat generally includes sandy beach areas within bays and coves that are protected from significant wave action. Male and female horseshoe crabs are coupled during mating and egg-laying.

This spring, individuals interested in reporting horseshoe crab spawning activity should be alert to the dates of new and full moons: May 4 - new moon, May 18 - full moon, June 2 - new moon, and June 16 - full moon. From a few days before to a few days after each of these four dates, horseshoe crab spawning activity is likely to be at its peak intensity.

The Division is working in cooperation with Limuli Laboratories in Cape May Court House to document the public's observations of spawning activity on beaches. Individuals can report observations to the Limuli Laboratory toll-free at 1-877-TAG-CRAB.

When calling, include date, time and location of observation (be as specific as possible) and leave your name and telephone number in the event information must be clarified. All information received over the next few months will be analyzed, summarized and reported to the Division and ASMFC.