NORWALK, Conn. -- The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is set to document "romance on the beach" and is looking for volunteers to help attach census tags on horseshoe crabs.
The volunteers will attach tags "as the crabs come up out of the water to spawn at Calf Pasture Beach," according to a press release. Dr. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield is leading the census of horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound. The Maritime Aquarium is assisting with the census and tagging.
"Dr. Mattei’s census is establishing a baseline crab population and will reveal horseshoe crab migrations and any changes in numbers or behaviors," representatives said in the release. "The data is needed because horseshoe crab eggs are an important food source for migrating shorebirds."
A decline in the horseshoe crab population could mean fewer birds on the coast, representatives said.
"Horseshoe crabs come up onto beaches on the nights of the full and new moons," representatives said in the release. "That’s a tagging bonanza time for researchers, so extra volunteers are needed to help."
Volunteers must attend one of two training sessions at the Aquarium at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, or Sunday, May 11. Volunteers also must be able to be up at dawn or to stay up late for the crab tagging sessions at Calf Pasture in May and June.
“This is a perfect ‘citizen scientist’ volunteer activity for parents with teens curious about a career in marine biology,” said aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. “You’re out there in the water and sand doing the work of real researchers. It’s memorable family fun too, but – because you have to be out so early or so late to do the taggings – it may not be best for younger kids.”
To sign up or for more details about the trainings and taggings, residents can call The Maritime Aquarium at 203-852-0700, ext. 2304, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.