Migrating birds missing critical food source in Delaware Bay

Surveys show that migratory red knot populations and the horseshoe crabs they rely on for food have failed to recover despite a 2013 ban on harvesting female crabs. ©ewan traveler

Migratory birds making their traditional refueling stopover in Delaware Bay found scarce food quantities on their annual trip to their summer breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. Annual surveys conducted in the spring show that threatened red knots (Calidris canutus) have seen population drops since 2000 due to coastal development, erratic weather patterns and, according to conservationists, the overexploitation of horseshoe crabs in their Delaware stopover site for use in fishery bait and to harvest their blood for medical uses. Red knots rely on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel up for the next leg of their journey. Even though the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission banned the harvest of female crabs for bait starting in 2013, horseshoe and red knot numbers have yet to recover, possibly due to poor enforcement of the ban.

Read more at The New York Times.