Monday, April 26, 2010

Teaching Kids About Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crabs are a good species to introduce to kids. They are both frighteningly strange looking and dinosaur-interesting. And in New Jersey, they are likely to be encountered on our beaches.

The spring migration of many species of shorebirds coincides with the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Bird counts of migratory shorebirds show disturbing decreases in numbers, and those who study the migrations see a correlation shorebird population declines and horseshoe crab over-harvesting.

Horseshoe crabs have survived 300 million years of a changing planet, but may not survive human interference. Loss of habitat is a concern, but the use of the crabs as bait is possibly even more of a threat.

These books offer a nice pathway into understanding this species for young readers.

Crab Moon (Read and Wonder)

Part story and part science lesson, Crab Moon (ages 5-9) is the story of seven-year-old Daniel and his mother who watch horseshoe crabs lay their eggs on the beach near their cottage in the moonlight of the full moon. I like that his mom remembers the seasonal spawning of horseshoe crabs on this same beach from her own childhood.

I also like the story's coda when Daniel "one last, lonely crab marooned upside down" and after some hesitation (horseshoe crabs can be scary looking!) he rights her, and follows her back to the sea.

Also

Harry Horseshoe Crab, A Tale of Crawly Creatures

Harry Horseshoe Crab, A Tale of Crawly Creatures

The Crab from Yesterday: The Life-Cycle of a Horseshoe Crab
The Crab from Yesterday: The Life-Cycle of a Horseshoe Crab


More on horseshoe crabs in New Jersey



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