Crab Crisis: Valuable Horseshoe Species Going Extinct
The horseshoe crab, which is not really a crab, but belongs to the taxonomical class Merostomata among arthropods, is about to join the long list of endangered species. Their potential extinction poses a major threat to pharmaceutical, clinical and food industries seeking the secrets to the species’ survival over more than 250 million years with minimal evolution, enduring extreme temperature conditions and salinity. Individuals are able to go without eating for a year.
Commonly found living in warm, shallow coastal waters on the sea floor, horseshoe crabs play an important ecological role. A continuing decrease in their population will affect other species, especially shorebirds that feed on the eggs, destabilizing the food chain. Sea turtles also feed on adult horseshoe crabs.
Scientists worldwide want to include the invertebrate in schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1974, labeling them as an endangered species. Enforcement will include monitoring for improper uses of horseshoe crabs.