The re-energized focus on Long Island Sound's story is obvious in the colorfully redesigned main hall, which has been renamed Newman's Own Hall in celebration of a $1.2 million grant from Newman's Own Foundation."

–  The Norwalk Citizen

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Volunteers Needed for Horseshoe Crab Tagging Census

Tagging horseshoe crabs during the last year's census.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk will collaborate with Dr. Jennifer Mattei from Sacred Heart University for the 2014 horseshoe crab census. We are looking for volunteers to help at any location along Long Island Sound in Fairfield County.

For more information, visit our Public Problems page on our website (second from the bottom).

Participants will be expected to be able to measure the horseshoe crabs accurately using metric ruler, identify gender, use an specialized tool to safely make a hole in the shell and not in themselves, and be able to walk in the mud and slippery gravel. We recommend high school grade 10 or higher unless supervised by an adult.

Training at the Maritime Aquarium will be in the Marine Science Lab on Thur. May 8 and Sun. May 11 at 7:00 to 9:00 PM – you only need to attend one of these. Veteran taggers need not attend.

TMA will only lead public taggings on the following dates & times at the parking lot outside of Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk:

  • Wed. May 14 evening at 10:45 PM for high tide census & tagging, May 15 Low tide tagging – 5:00 AM
  • Wed May 28 evening at 11:00 PM for high tide census & Tagging, May 29 Low tide tagging – 5:00 AM
  • Fri. June 13 evening at 11:10 PM for high tide census & tagging, June 14 low tide tagging – 5:00 AM

The following are dates of the new and full moon, low tide times, and sunrise & sunset times when tagging should be best. It should be noted that usually there is a good presence of horseshoe crabs 2 days before and after the new and full moon for those who wish to tag on their own. High tide at night usually produces the greatest results, depending on weather and cloud coverage. Other dates and times that might be useful should you choose to do this on your own or with another group (ht = high tide):

  • May 14, Wednesday ht@11:58PM 8.45 ft. Full Moon Sunrise 5:35 AM Sunset 8:03 PM
  • May 28, Wednesday ht@ 12:11 PM 8.17 ft New Moon Sunrise 5:25 AM Sunset 8:16 PM
  • June 13, Friday ht @ 11:39 PM 7.7 ft Full Moon Sunrise 5:20 AM Sunset 8:27 PM
  • June 26, Thursday ht @ 11 :51 PM 8.01 ft New Moon Sunrise 5:22AM Sunset 8:30 PM

Tagging can usually start 2 hours before and extend to 2 hours after high or low tide. For those accompanying the TMA staff, we will meet at the times listed above to do tagging at Calf Pasture beach during low and high tides. We usually need to park outside the park and walk in the main entrance. Once inside the entrance bear to the right (keep parking area on your left), follow the road and gather at the Shea memorial at the Coast Guard Auxillary/sailing school area at the southwest corner of the park.

Each participant should bring the following:

  • Food and water – bring your own please.
  • good headlamp or flash light(s) with broad dim light
  • pencils
  • insect repellent, (midges and mosquitoes are common in most places at these times).
  • For high tide tagging: waders, hip boots or knee boots, sturdy walking shoes or clothing that can get wet and are appropriate for the weather.
  • Some gardening/flooring knee pads are a blessing and a sturdy bucket (5-6 gal. wine or sheet rock compound) or collapsing seat are great to sit on for those who record the data.

Training for this activity can be done on location, or prior to the activity. On May 8 and May 11 there will be public training sessions at 7:00 PM at the Maritime Aquarium in the Marine Science lab on the 3rd floor above the main entrance. The training will include information on natural history, what has been learned as well as how to tag, and only one session is sufficient to learn how to participate.

If interested in training and tagging, please contact Joe Schnierlein at TMA at 203-852-0700 ext. 2304 or,

For parents and teachers:
If you wish to have your children/students involved with this, having them attend a low tide tagging is the easiest way to start. High tide will usually require some students to wade into the water to collect the animals, whereas at low tide, they are on the sand, mud or gravel. High tide census and tagging usually produces the greatest number but take place late at night.

You will find horseshoe crabs during the day-light hours, however, the greatest number usually come out at night for the high tide. It is cooler, more moist, and their survivability is usually greater at night if they are left exposed on a beach.

The horseshoe crab spawning activity historically can start around Mother’s Day, appears to reach the greater numbers during the June new and full moons, and then drops off in July. However, this is weather dependent. If it is stormy during the new and full moon times, they will spawn in fewer numbers on that day, but more the day after.

Directions to Calf Pasture Beach:
I 95 S. Bound to Norwalk
Get off exit 16, and take a left crossing over I95
Start taking mileage and counting stop lights at the Rite Aide store.
Continue straight through 4 lights.
At East Side Café (on rt.) cemetery (on left) – get in the left lane, and go left keeping cemetery on left. [0.4 miles] – you will see a Wachovia bank on right –
get into right lane
Bear right onto Gregory Blvd.
At the monument [0.9 miles from start at Rite Aide store] take a left around monument and off of Gregory onto Marvin (see tennis courts on your right)
Then, the next immediate right onto Calf Pasture Beach Rd.
Stay on Calf Pasture Beach Road to the end at the beach gatehouse. [1.6 mi. from start]

I 95 N. bound to Norwalk:
Get off exit 16, and take a right.
Start taking mileage and counting stop lights at the Rite Aide store and continue as above.

Warning!!!!!  Here’s an alternative route if Calf Pasture Beach Road is flooded– which it can be one hour before a full moon high tide to one hour after with an east wind:
Instead of going right onto Calf Pasture Beach Rd., continue straight on Marvin St for 0.2 miles – and it will bear right and become Canfield Ave.
When it bears right – you will see a golf course right in front of you and it will be on your left as you proceed along Canfield.
Continue down Canfield Ave for 0.45 miles and you come to a “T” intersection with homes directly in front of you – continue right onto Canfield Ave. for 0.23 miles and you will be at the main entrance to Calf Pasture Beach.
If there is an east wind expect even greater flooding on any new or full moon.

For those joining our public taggings, please park at Cove Marina, which is on the right just prior to the entrance to Calf Pasture beach. Please put a sign on the car’s dash board or on the driver side window – “Horseshoe Crab tagging”, which you can print below. If you arrive while the miniature golf course is open, park more in the middle of the marina. If miniature golf is closed, you can park right near the entrance.

For those who wish to tag in areas close to home, you can tag at high or low tides. There is list below of beaches where a census will take place. Please do the tagging after the census takers have taken their counts. The census takers will be visiting the beaches at high tide on all the days.

Other beaches and beach captains targeted for census:

Westerly, RI
Juliana Berry ( or

Groton, CT:
Rick Newton (
Maggie Jones (
Nancy Congdon (

Guilford, CT
Judith Knowles (

Branford, CT
Heather Smiarowski (

New Haven, CT
Mark Beekey (
Adam Rudman (
Rob Rocke (

Milford, CT
Jennifer Mattei (

Fairfield, CT
Sally Harold (
Janak Desai (

Norwalk, CT
Joe Schnierlein (

Darien, CT
Ioa Byrne (
Darien Nature Center

Stamford, CT
Leigh Shemitz (
Dianne Selditch (
Dione Clinkenbeard (

Greenwich, CT
Denise Savageau (

Rye, NY
Jennifer Mattei (

Brooklyn, NY
John Rowden (
Jamaica Bay

North Shore of Long Island, NY
Matt Sclafani (ms332@cornell.ed)

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6 Responses to Volunteers Needed for Horseshoe Crab Tagging Census

  1. Cheryl Adkins says:

    Hi! I have a Girl Scout troop in East Haven. Last year we tagged crabs over in Branford. We’d love to do so again this year. Looking at the Project Limulus website, there are high tides available on May 30th at noon and May 31st at 1:10 am. Is it possible to make arrangements to be at the 1 am tide in Branford? We have 16 girls – 13 of them who participated last year and can’t wait to go do it again. Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Best Regards, Cheryl

  2. Linda and Gerald Livolsi says:

    We would love to help taking the census of the horseshoe crabs in the New Haven to Guilford area. We have done it before several years ago. Please contact us.

  3. Candie Fredritz says:

    Hello. I am new to this and I am so excited. I would like to get a group of us to go from Kent. Do all of the adults need to attend the training or can just one or two of us attend and then the group of adults and kids (age 10 and up) go to tag?

    Thank you for your help


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Mission: The Maritime Aquarium inspires people of all ages to appreciate and protect
the Long Island Sound ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits,
marine science, and environmental education.

10 North Water Street  •  Norwalk, CT 06854
Tel: 203-852-0700

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

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