How I became fascinated by the Horseshoe crab
I have lived on Long Island, NY all my life and have often seen the carapace of horseshoe crabs littered on the beach. I mostly thought they were ugly and didn't want to touch them (especially when it has a telson - which I thought looked dangerous). Recently, in my efforts to learn more about marine life on Long Island, I heard that the local marine center tags horseshoe crabs! Why? That led me on my journey to find out more. I read the book, "Bloodtide: A New Holiday in Homage to Horseshoe Crabs" by Eli Nixon. I highly recommend it!
As part of my fascination, I flew to North Carolina to assist in a production by Paperhand Puppet Intervention that uses giant puppets as activists. This production was based, in part by Eli Nixon's book. I helped in any way just to be a part of this awesome production! (And I got to try on one of their horseshoe crab puppets).
It turns out this species is estimated to be nearly 450 million years old! There are many fascinating characteristics about the horseshoe crab, but the one that struck me the most was that horseshoe crabs don't have white blood cells, instead, they have amebocytes which fight off infection. In the 1950s, it was discovered that doctors could use amoebocytes found in horseshoe crab blood to test the safety of vaccines and other drugs for humans!! From that point on, I felt it was very important that children learn and appreciate this wonderful species! Stay tuned for future Horseshoe Crab puppets with kids!!