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Last Updated: Aug 16th, 2007 - 19:28:08 

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Horseshoe Crabs Are Not Good to Eat but Scientists
By Jonie Maschek
Oct 21, 2006, 10:34

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Horseshoe crabs can be seen nesting along the local shores. Horseshoe crabs mate constantly and are known for spring and summer grouping but because of the warm weather they are nesting more often.

The horseshoe crab is one of Florida’s most mysterious and fascinating creatures. It has a long spiky tail, an armor covering similar to a turtle. It is not edible and is referred to as being related to the spider as they have 7 pairs of legs. It stays in the water, often on the bottom and lays thousands of eggs at a time but only a few survive. Horseshoe crabs are important to the ecology and to all coastal communities as many fish survive on crab’s eggs as well as many animals and birds.

Horseshoe crabs have been harvested by fertilizer companies for years. But they are still abundant in Florida.

Pharmaceutical companies extract blood from thousands of horseshoe crabs to obtain LAL but they do not kill them. About a third of their blood is extracted then they are released back into the water.

Note: LAL is a chemical in horseshoe crabs blood responsible for clotting called Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate. LAL is in high demand worldwide as the most effective substance used to test for bacterial contamination in commercial drugs and medical equipment. It is also used to diagnose diseases such as spinal meningitis.

The eyes of horseshoe crabs have been used by scientists for research for the past 50 years. They say this gives them a better understanding of how human eyes work.

To prevent the decline in horseshoe crabs Florida has restrictions. Rules implemented are for individuals with a valid saltwater product license who can harvest up to 25 horseshoe crabs per day and those with both a valid saltwater products license and a marine-life endorsement or a permit to harvest eels commercially are allowed to harvest up to 100 horseshoe crabs per day.

These rules may change annually. Contact the FWC Division of Law Enforcement for information about the current regulations.

As one glides over the beautiful waters of the bay, often you can see the antics of the dolphins soaring in the air as they give us a free production of a ballet performance. They are a graceful beautiful fish.

This week I heard dolphins were killed by gobbling fish hooks, lures and some wrapped in old fishing lines. This was reported by Mote Marine Labs in Long Boat Key. Along the shoreline around most boat ramps are pipes with a hole in them for you to deposit old tackle. If anglers can’t find one, bring it ashore and dispose of it. Don’t hook a fish, cut the line, and let it swim away!
Snook are on the prowl and if you are waiting for your first trophy catch, I suggest you have patience. Often anglers have one on the line but do not work them. I have heard many a “Fish Tale” about the big snook that just took off with the line. I hope you are using strong enough tackle to bring in one of these fighting game fish. This fish may soar and jump for a half hour or longer before you are able to boat it. Snook are in the Alafia and Little Manatee rivers, the Kitchen, waters around Bullfrog Creek, Cockroach Bay, Bishop Harbor, Rocky Creek and the Skyway. So fish in one of these spots and hook a snook.

Mangrove snapper are the easy catch this week.

A few cobia are still around the buoy markers and the bay waters.
A rare sawfish can be seen in the back country. I have talked to people who say they have caught them in the Little Manatee River but I have never seen one.

Redfish are plentiful in all the waterways with many catches this week on live shrimp.

Pompano are still swimming around the bay. They are being boated by many. They are a great tablefare.

The usual sheepshead catches are at the piers.

Flounder are being caught on incoming tides.

Freshwater catfish are abundant and large mouth bass are being hooked in the upper waters of the rivers and in local lakes.

Fishing is great in this state and if you drop a line you will hook one every time.

© Copyright 2007 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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