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Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mystic counts crabs



I am constantly searching for that “aha” experience that will motivate a person to join the Aquarium in conservation action. And during the summer, it is often walking the beaches searching for some of the ocean’s oldest animals that help inspire our newest environmental stewards.
For over 15 years, Mystic Aquarium has partnered with community organizations to help collect critical horseshoe crab population data. This citizen science collaboration collects significantly more data than a single research team could compile. More than 2,500 individuals have joined us each spring as we comb the beaches at dusk under a full moon, searching for horseshoe crabs. We record the number of horseshoe crabs we see, their size and gender, and whether they have a tracking tag. Some brave individuals even join us for midnight tagging events. The data collected provides important clues about species distribution, mortality, and human impact.
As both demand for these animals and mortality increase, together as a community, we are working to ensure that the horseshoe crab population remains stable. As the summer approaches, I look forward to walking alongside many of you as we protect these living fossils. 

MaryEllen Mateleska
Senior Director of Education & Conservation



Partnership for Horseshoe Crab Conservation


In response to ever-increasing pressures on our local horseshoe crab populations, we have established a long-term partnership with Charles River Laboratory to provide multiple opportunities to engage in horseshoe crab conservation. In 2018 we expanded our crab monitoring and tagging efforts to include the collection of horseshoe crab eggs to be reared in the aquaculture space by the Aquarium’s teen conservation group.
A female horseshoe crab may lay more than 80,000 eggs each breeding season, but only a tiny fraction of them will make it to adulthood. We are one of a handful of organizations trying to figure out how to culture horseshoe crabs from eggs. The ultimate goal is to release these reared animals to help boost populations in impacted areas throughout North America.



Join the Action


Join us in May and June as we head to the beach to witness these “living fossils” gather during our nighttime horseshoe crab monitoring walks.  As we walk a few miles along the coast, we’ll learn the important roles these animal play in the ecosystem, economy and ensuring human health.




Get Involved!


Mystic Aquarium has a wealth of programming for students and families to be actively engaged in research, conservation, and environmental stewardship. 
Students in PreK-Grade 10 can participate in a unique and memorable summer camp experience.

For individuals 16 years of age and older looking to become more involved with Mystic Aquarium’s mission, visit our volunteer page to discover the many opportunities.





Support Our Conservation Impact

Mystic Aquarium's Conservation and Educational initiatives are possible thanks to donations. Together, we can ensure a bright future for our Ocean Planet.

Donate Now

Mystic Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research.



(860) 572-5955

55 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355