Molloy Professor John Tanacredi in the News

Concerns Over Horseshoe Crabs Spur Discussion About Limiting Harvest

Newsday - January 13, 2020

By Mark Harrington

John Tanacredi, a Molloy College professor of earth and environmental science, sees the situation as considerably more dire than the state and federal regulators.

Tanacredi, who is also director of the Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring, said the crabs in New York are at a "critical tipping point," noting that his annual survey of the species at 115 locations from Brooklyn to Montauk showed the lowest recorded numbers of crabs in the 21 years the center has been conducting the research. Worse, he reported, 85% of the beaches where annual breeding had been recorded showed no signs of the crabs.

Tanacredi said a ban on the use of horseshoe crabs as bait would help restore the population, which he and others noted is also being impacted by the loss of habitat as shoreline development and erosion-protection measures increase.

"We are right on the precipice," he said. "This is the perfect juxtaposition of an extinction event taking place before us. They've got to stop the bait collection."

However, baymen who have used horseshoe crabs for generations question the surveys and dire predictions, and say it's the best bait for whelk an eels.

Molloy Professor John Tanacredi to Present at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) on October 26, 2019

John T. Tanacredi, Ph.D., Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of CERCOM, Molloy College Dr. Tanacredi will discuss his published scientific work on the ecology of the Horseshoe Crab, Limulus, with emphasis on human impacts on horseshoe crabs and their habitat on Long Island. World-wide there are 4 species of Horseshoe Crab, all of which are used for bait in commercial fisheries and for blood extraction products in the growing business of LAL (Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate), a testing agent used to check for bacterial contamination during the production of human medicines. In the wild, horseshoe crab eggs are a source of protein for millions of migrating shorebirds. In 2012, prompted by considerable interest in the international sale of horseshoe crabs to the USA for bait, an international committee investigation revealed that in Indonesia over 10,000 adult crabs per day were being harvested to collect blood for LAL production and then sacrificed for an exotic food demand. This International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Specialist Group for study of Horseshoe Crabs established as its goal the inclusion of all 4 species on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. In 2016, this Specialist Study Group's representatives, one of which was Dr. Tanacredi, prepared an e-poster and contributed a webpage on Horseshoe Crabs to the published proceedings of the IUCN World congress held in Hawaii. The Red List Report for Limulus was accepted for detailed review by the IUCN. Dr. Tanacredi's talk outlines this global conservation effort and the actions necessary to protect Horseshoe Crabs within their range world-wide and on Long Island. This is a free program.

Advanced reservations are required for all events. For more information, reservations, and directions to meeting places, please call: 631.537.9735.

How Stuff Works - March 19, 2019
By Loraine Fick

Horseshoe Crabs Endangered by Biomedical Bloodletting

"We monitored more than 115 sites on Long Island for over 17 years and found that horseshoe crab habitat has declined by more than 8 percent," says John Tanacredi, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Molloy College and director of the Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring (CERCOM). "Loss of habitat means loss of breeding animals, clearly seen in the long-term decline in horseshoe crabs in the area by about 1 percent per year."

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