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Horseshoe Crab spawning survey on Delaware Bay beaches

Since 1991, The Wetlands Institute has brought scientists and volunteers together to conduct surveys of horseshoe crabs spawning on New Jersey’s Delaware Bay beaches. These surveys take place during full and new moon phases during the months of May and June at the height of the spawning season. During this time, thousands of crabs crawl onto Delaware Bay beaches to lay their eggs in nests along the shoreline’s high tide line. Our horseshoe crab spawning surveys are coordinated with other groups in New Jersey and Delaware so that they are standardized and take place on the same dates and tides. By taking snap shot counts of the number of horseshoe crabs spawning on Delaware Bay beaches, scientists are able to gain insight to the Delaware Bay’s horseshoe crab population status and trends.

Interested in Joining us for a Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey?

We offer the opportunity for you to join Institute scientists on a 2 km walk along New Jersey’s Delaware Bay beaches to count horseshoe crabs. This activity lasts approximately 3 hours and is ideal for all age groups. Group sizes are limited, and advanced registration is required. Please take time to review our instructions below on how to sign up, where to meet, and what to expect for this event.

2017 Spawning Survey Dates:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to sign up for a spawning survey

To sign-up for a spawning survey, please click on the link provided below. Please input your FIRST NAME in the white space and check off the date you wish to participate. If you have more than 1 person in your group you MUST fill in a separate entry for each member of your group. Ten individuals maximum are allowed to attend each survey. Due to the high demand of this program, we ask that individuals participate in ONE survey night per season. After adding in your name and chosen date, click save. You will be asked to provide your email address and phone number. This contact information will only be visible to The Wetlands Institute staff. Phone numbers are needed in case of cancellation for severe weather events.

Where to Meet

All survey participants must meet at The Wetlands Institute (1075 Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone Harbor, NJ) at the designated time/date indicated on the sign-up page.

What to Expect

Volunteers will meet at The Wetlands Institute lab area (use Institute side entrance to enter into the building) to learn about the natural history of horseshoe crabs, the Delaware Bay survey, and survey methodology. Following this 40 minute introduction, volunteers will drive their personal vehicles to either the Villas beach site for the survey (approx. 20 minutes, directions will be provided). The survey will take place on the beach along the waterline. The survey will cover 2km of beach and will take approximately 3 hours start to finish. Volunteers should be prepared with:

✔ weather appropriate clothing

✔ closed toe shoes or knee boots (no flip flops!) that can get wet

✔ a flashlights or headlamp

✔ protection from biting insects is encouraged

For questions, please contact us at