Thursday, September 29, 2011

Horseshoe Crab remains


Last summer especially and this summer less so, I have habitually picked up the horseshoe crab shells, some young and small, 3 to 5 inches, others ancient, 10 to 12 inches and much darker than the young ones, and lay them in groups high up above the tide line because I feel such ancient creatures deserved reverence.

About the first of August there was a huge die off. One morning I counted over 65 shells washed up along the mile long beach, mostly relatively young crabs. [It might have been a molting instead of a die off. I hope so. I'm ignorant bout how to tell the difference.] After that the numbers have decreased, and are fewer than last year. A few times I've come across huge shells that I think of as the remnants of Methusalahs, perhaps 50, 60 years old, often with a covering of barnacles, and very dark in color. Those I've put in prominent places high up on the shore so others can see them and be amazed as I am.

The last two week there have been a scattering of shells, mostly within a fairly short stretch of the beach, perhaps where the tide comes in at a different angle than elsewhere. I noticed that someone else had taken my hint and gathered a great many together in one group, 17 shells one day, over 20 another. The picture shows them one morning this week. The tide may reach them, perhaps walkers come by paying no attention, or dogs being walked nose around among them. But I was touched to see that my respect for the shells, which I always turn up so the messy, semi-empty internal structure is covered, is shared by others. Perhaps they only need a small hint -- or perhaps it was an original impulse of their own.

Horseshoe crabs were around when the dinosaurs were, they have persevered through enormous geological changes. They deserve respect as do all living creatures but they deserve an extra degree of respect for the connection that goes back to such an early part of earth's history.

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June I like that you gave them respect in placing them in groups and the older ones in high spots. Nice that others are noticing. I wonder why the die-offs -- is this natural?
Nice post. -- barbara

June Calender said...

When I was worrying about the die off it was pointed out to me that maybe it was molting instead and that made me feel better. I'm sure the older ones are dying naturally and I suppose the younger ones have some kind of natural causes. But the seas are ever more polluted so that could be a factor. Thanks for our comment.