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Common Name: Horseshoe crab
Latin Name: Limulus polyphemus
Size/weight: Up to 24 inches long and 12 inches wide; 3 or 4 pounds.
Range: Found from Maine to the Yucatan (Mexico).
Habitat: Estuaries to continental shelf
Diet: Worms, bivalves and other bottom dwelling creatures.
Predators: Migratory shorebirds, humans (fishing bait).
Description: The horseshoe crab’s name is somewhat misleading. Although it is shaped like a horseshoe, it’s no crab. The horseshoe crab is an arachnid, a class of arthropods that also includes scorpions, spiders, mites and ticks. With two main eyes, two simple (light sensing only) eyes and a mouth on the bottom, the horseshoe crab is well suited to life on the bottom. A brownish segmented shell offers protection and a pointed tail helps the animal right itself; it’s not used for attacking or even self-defense.
Conservation Note: After surviving on Earth for 300 million years, horseshoe crab numbers are declining. A local study, in which The Maritime Aquarium participates, is looking to find out the health and habits of the horseshoe crab population in Long Island Sound.