Spawning Horseshoe Crab Surveys

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Fast Facts: What are spawning horseshoe crab surveys? 

You can think of horseshoe crabs as “living fossils” - they have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. In modern times, their unique blue blood has become important to the biomedical industry to test for impurities in drugs, and they serve as bait in the eel and whelk fisheries. However, their population is in jeopardy due to overharvesting, and many states along the Atlantic coast have developed programs to manage their horseshoe crab populations.

In spite of this interest, little is known about the population of horseshoe crabs in New Hampshire’s Great Bay Estuary. This lack of information is critical, and citizen scientists are playing a big role in filling in this missing knowledge. In 2012 and 2013, volunteers partnered with UNH researchers to survey spawning horseshoe crabs using methods that are consistent with State agency surveys. After a two-year hiatus, the project has returned for 2016 and 2017.


Volunteer Description: What do horseshoe crab survey volunteers do?

Volunteer Experience: Horseshoe crab monitors will work closely with a UNH researcher to look for and count spawning horseshoe crabs.

Time Frame: Coming soon - to be announced!

Project Impacts: Data collected during horseshoe crab surveys directly contributes to ongoing UNH research.

Qualifications: Interest in finding and counting horseshoe crabs in their natural environment


  • Learn about and observe a fascinating coastal species
  • Contribute to the knowledge and management of the Great Bay’s horseshoe crab population

Questions? For more information or to become involved in volunteer horseshoe crab surveys, contact Caitlin Peterson.


Upcoming Opportunities: Join our spawning horseshoe crab survey efforts!

Horseshoe crab monitoring will be back in summer 2017. Check back here or sign up for our newsletter for more information, and contact Caitlin Peterson if you would like more information or to be notified when trainings are scheduled.


Learn More: Links, resources, and partner organizations

Check out this publication from NH Fish and Game about the fascinating life cycle of horseshoe crabs, and read this summary of some of the findings that have emerged from past volunteer horseshoe crab surveys!


Close-up photograph of two pairs of spawning horseshoe crabs in the Great Bay. Purpose is to illustrate the object of volunteer spawning horseshoe crab surveys.