Letters to the Editor

Letter: Horseshoe crabs need protection on beach

You recently reported on the 2016 beach renourishment project on Hilton Head Island. I realize how challenging it must be to balance this schedule to avoid sea turtle nesting season and to protect the habitats of piping plovers who overwinter here along our inlets and sandbar beaches.

What this article did not address, are the hundreds and hundreds of horseshoe crabs that spawn along Mitchelville and Fish Haul beaches between April and June -- the months these beaches are projected for renourishment.

Why are horseshoe crabs important to protect?

Their blood contains clotting agents sensitive to endotoxins. An extract of horseshoe crab blood is used by the pharmaceutical industry to test their products for bacterial contamination to ensure medicines are safe for humans.

Horseshoe crabs also play an important ecological role for many shorebirds that migrate through our area. Several species of birds, especially the red knot, depend on horseshoe crab eggs as their primary food source during their stopover.

The preferred foods for loggerhead sea turtles are horseshoe crabs and whelks. A decreased food supply will further endanger these turtles.

I acknowledge that I do not have the skills to organize a project of this magnitude in a way to address the needs of all the marine life and birds that rely on our beaches for their survival. However, I do ask that the powers that be reassess the projected schedule to determine if modifications can be made to include the protection of our horseshoe crabs.

Joanne Voulelis

Hilton Head Island

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