DNREC seeking volunteers for 2015 Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey

DNREC seeking volunteers for 2015 Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey

Volunteer training to be offered April 11and 16


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Horsehsoe crabs at Pickering beach

DOVER (March 31, 2015) – The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is seeking volunteers to assist with DNREC’s annual bay-wide horseshoe crab spawning survey in May and June on the Ted Harvey Wildlife Area, Kitts Hummock and North Bowers beaches.

For those who are interested in assisting with this year’s survey, DNERR staff will host two volunteer training sessions at the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. New volunteers are required to attend the training and past participants are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two sessions:

  • 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 11
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 16

Volunteers should preregister online before the training dates by visiting http://de.gov/dnerrhscsurvey. Volunteers must be 13 or older to participate in the survey and any volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration also is required to assist in the survey.

Horseshoe crab eggs, Broadkill Beach, delaware bay, sussex county, DNREC surveys,
Horseshoe crab eggs on Broadkill Beach

In the training sessions, volunteers will learn how to conduct the survey, properly record data and distinguish between male and female horseshoe crabs. The training will also highlight results of horseshoe crab survey data and how it is being used.

Training participants will also be instructed on how to provide preferred dates for survey nights. Surveys are conducted at high tide in the evening between 8 p.m. and midnight during peak spawning in May and June. The total time commitment per night will range from 2 to 3 hours, depending on how many horseshoe crabs there are to count.


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2015 Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey Dates and Times of High Tide


Survey Date Time of High Tide*
Friday, May 1 8:03 p.m.
Sunday, May 3 9:18 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5 10:35 p.m.
Saturday, May 16 8:14 p.m.
Monday, May 18 9:50 p.m.
Wednesday, May 20 11:22 p.m.
Sunday, May 31 8:08 p.m.
Tuesday, June 2 9:31 p.m.
Thursday, June 4 10:59 p.m.
Sunday, June 14 7:57 p.m.
Tuesday, June 17 9:32 p.m.
Thursday, June 18 10:59 p.m.


* Please note that times listed above are the high tides for the DNERR coordinated beaches only. Participants who are interested in other Delaware Bay beaches not coordinated by DNERR are welcome to attend the training and will be referred to the appropriate beach leader for further information.

Rehoboth bay, indian river bay, Spawning horseshoe crabs, dnrec press releases
Spawning horseshoe crabs

Since 1990, horseshoe crab spawning surveys have been conducted by volunteers counting crabs on Delaware Bay beaches in Delaware and in New Jersey. Despite the horseshoe crab’s importance to the ecology of the bay, little is known about its population status.

“The data collected by volunteers during these surveys is key for scientists to monitor changes in numbers of spawning crabs in the Delaware Bay,” said DNERR Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta. “And Delaware’s well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers have made this program one of the most successful volunteer-based wildlife surveys in the country.”

For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring, contact Maggie Pletta at 302-739-6377 or emailMargaret.Pletta@state.de.us. For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring and other DNERR programs, please visit http://de.gov/dnerr or find us on Facebook – Delaware NERR.

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is a partnership between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. DNERR is administered through the Delaware Coastal Programs Section of DNREC’s Office of the Secretary.

This project is part of DNREC’s Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.

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