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Horseshoe crab on beach

Hundreds of horseshoe crabs wash up dead on southern Japanese beach

  • 28
  • 09
  • 2016

The horseshoe crab is one of the oldest living creatures. Experts have been left scratching their heads recently due to inexplicable deaths of countless horseshoe crabs.

Horseshoe crab underside

Hundreds of horseshoe crabs, nearly 500, were found dead on the shores of a southern Japanese beach. It happened during the time of the year they come to lay eggs.

Of course, some always die in the process, but this time, the deaths were ten times more than normal.

Researchers think this could affect the population for subsequent years since fewer eggs were laid. Also, some experts claim these events are an aftermath of rising temperatures, parasites, or diseases, but none of these theories have been confirmed.

Due to its shrinking population, the horseshoe crab had already been included in Japan’s endangered species list. This recent event worsens the situation.

Horseshoe crabs for sale

Horseshoe crabs are also known as ‘living fossils’ because of the time they have been on earth, roughly 450 million years. But they are especially interesting because of their blue blood.

The blue color of the blood is caused by the copper in the bloodstream that transports oxygen throughout the body. The majority of living creatures use iron to transport oxygen.

The blood of horseshoe crabs has been harvested since the 1970’s to test sterility of medical equipment and intravenous drugs. It also coagulates around tiny amounts of bacteria, immobilizing pathogens.

One liter can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $19,000.

Horseshoe crab

 

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