Clean Beaches Clear a Path for the Horseshoe Crab’s Survival
A coalition of conservation groups in New York City partnered to clean up Jamaica Bay beaches and in the process increased the survival of an unsung creature that is critical to this complex ecosystem. Propelled by a Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grant, New York City Audubon and its partners helped reduce trash and debris on Jamaica Bay beaches and adjacent salt marsh by 30% in order to clear pathways for breeding crabs to return to the sea.
Many species of birds, including semipalmated plovers, ruddy turnstones, and red knots, have come to rely on horseshoe crabs eggs for food when they migrate through Jamaica Bay. Because nesting habitat is limited here for horseshoe crabs, any efforts to restore shoreline in this urban environment benefit nesting horseshoe crabs and have a positive impact on migrating shorebirds.
Through coordinated efforts with students, volunteers, and agency staff, NYC Audubon worked to clean up Jamaica Bay beaches, focusing special efforts on sites identified as potential egg-laying sites for horseshoe crabs, like the extremely-degraded Plum Beach.
NYC Audubon coupled the habitat restoration with an education and outreach program targeting recreational boaters and communities bordering the Bay. Dock Parties, Block Parties and Shorebird Festivals helped NYC Audubon engage the community in a fun way.
This new project not only helped create a favorable nesting habitat for horseshoe crabs, it also means improved water quality and clean beaches that can be enjoyed by all.