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May 14, 2002


For more information contact:
Peter J. Himchak at 609-748-2020

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife is encouraging the general public to assist in identifying horseshoe crab spawning habitat throughout the State this spring. Collecting information on potential spawning habitat is the result of an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crabs adopted in 1998 and is required of all coastal states from Maine to Florida.

While many Delaware Bay beaches and some Atlantic coastal bay beaches are known to support horseshoe crab spawning from year to year, the Division would appreciate current, personal observations from individuals on sites of spawning activity.

The horseshoe crab spawning season in the mid-Atlantic region usually occurs during May and June when large numbers of horseshoe crabs move onto sandy beaches to mate and lay eggs. Spawning habitat generally includes sandy beach areas within bays and coves that are protected from significant wave action. Male and female horseshoe crabs are coupled during mating and egg-laying.

This spring, persons interested in reporting horseshoe crab spawning activity should be alert to the dates of new and full moons: May 12 - new moon, May 26 - full moon, June 10 - new moon, and June 24 - full moon. For a few days before to a few days after each of these four dates, horseshoe crab spawning activity is likely to be at its peak intensity.

Individuals may report their observations on horseshoe crab spawning activity by visiting the Division's web site at and accessing the "Horseshoe Crab Spawning Habitat Identification Form," or by calling the toll free telephone number 1-866-NJ-CATCH (1-866-652-2824). When calling, be sure to leave your name and telephone number so that someone can contact you to record your information.

All data received over the next few months will be analyzed, summarized, mapped and reported to the ASMFC and state regulatory agencies so that this critical habitat can be protected.