The Wetlands Institute is pleased to announce our 8th Annual Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival, a weekend packed with conservation-based, interactive activities and wildlife encounters for all ages.
Located between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape May Peninsula plays host to one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. Moving to the pulse of ancient rhythms, tens of thousands of shorebirds leave their winter homes in South America and fly north, dropping down onto the beaches of Delaware Bay just as horseshoe crabs climb out of the water to lay millions of eggs in the sand. For two weeks, the hungry shorebirds feed on these energy-packed eggs, doubling their weight before making their last migratory push north to breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra. Our shores host the largest concentration of spawning horseshoe crabs in the world, and the shorebird migration – nearly 10,000 miles end to end – is one Nature’s most epic journeys. This is the only place on Earth to witness this incredible drama.
Come join The Wetlands Institute for a festival that celebrates this great wonder – the shorebird migration and horseshoe crab spawning season. Guests of all ages can enjoy a variety of conservation-based activities including guided shorebird viewings; horseshoe crab workshops; horseshoe crab spawning survey demonstrations and reTURN the Favor walks; aquarium teaching tanks and creature features; and other hands-on education and conservation-based activities.
Proceeds from the event help support our critical research, conservation, and education programs focused on shorebirds and horseshoe crabs.
Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival Programs
Join us for special festival programs occurring around Seven Mile Island that highlight the natural wonder of the spring shorebird migration and horseshoe crab spawning. All programs are guided by The Wetlands Institute’s staff or volunteers.
Pre-registration is required for all Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival Programs, and registrations are limited.
General Admission Schedule
Join us at The Wetlands Institute anytime Saturday and Sunday between 9:30-4:30 to enjoy our elevated walkway, exhibit space, and naturalist-led visitor programs.
General admission is included in the festival ticket price, so feel free to join us as frequently as you like throughout the weekend.
Special Birding Cruises on the Back Bay
Skimmer Tours again offers their highly acclaimed eco-cruises on board The Skimmer to view wildlife in the beautiful back bays of Stone Harbor. Highlights include birds and wildlife of the salt marsh and marine life touch tanks. Trips depart from The Wetlands Institute.
Pre-registration and an additional program fee are required. Call 609-884-3100 or visit skimmer.com for reservations.
Please note: Skimmer Tours will be following all of the state of NJ and US Coast Guard regulations regarding COVID precautions. This includes limiting passenger count to 19 (so there can be social distancing), requiring masks for everyone on board, and sanitizing between trips. They will not be offering snacks for sale, binoculars for use, or the cheese, crackers, and fruit for the 6 pm trip on Friday, May 21. They will have bottled water for sale and of course amazing views of the marsh and its wildlife.
Special COVID Considerations
As you prepare for your visit, just a few quick rules and procedures to ensure your visit is safe for your family and ours.
- Whenever possible, please adhere to social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart or more for The Wetlands Institute staff and/or other program participants) in all areas of The Wetlands Institute both inside and outside and at all off-site festival program locations.
- We require everyone aged 2 years and older, who is physically able without inhibiting their health, to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces, and while on the decking and lawn areas surrounding the building.
- We strongly recommend face coverings be worn outdoors on the Salt Marsh Trail, elevated walkway, and dock, and require face coverings be worn in these areas, and all off-site festival program locations, when social distancing is not possible and/or when interacting with The Wetlands Institute Staff and/or other participating group members. For your safety, our staff will also be wearing face coverings during any interaction and in all public spaces and at all off-site program locations.
- For the safety of others, please do not visit The Wetlands Institute if you are feeling ill or running a fever.
- The physical Tidepool Shop is open during our regular hours, Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30-4:30. For your convenience, you can still order online and either pick up your order here or have it shipped to your door. Check out our online shop for shipping and curbside pickup.
- We are limiting capacity during our off-site festival programs. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy the programs safely and responsibly.
- Due to the possibility of overcrowding during inclement weather, The Wetlands Institute may modify program schedules and/or close without advanced notice.
- We prefer the use of credit or debit cards for transactions. If you would prefer a contactless option, you may prepay on the day of your visit by giving us a call at 609-368-1211. We will take your information over the phone, confirm your entry time to our exhibits, and upon your arrival issue you your admission stickers.