Volunteer training to be offered April 11 and 16
The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is seeking volunteers to assist with DNREC’s annual bay-wide horseshoe crab spawning survey in May and June on the Ted Harvey Wildlife Area, Kitts Hummock and North Bowers beaches.
For those who are interested in assisting with this year’s survey, DNERR staff will host two volunteer training sessions at the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. New volunteers are required to attend the training and past participants are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two sessions: 10 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 11; and 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 16.
Volunteers should preregister online before the training dates by visiting http://de.gov/dnerrhscsurvey. Volunteers must be 13 or older to participate in the survey, and any volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration also is required to assist in the survey.
In the training sessions, volunteers will learn how to conduct the survey, properly record data and distinguish between male and female horseshoe crabs. The training will also highlight results of horseshoe crab survey data and how it is being used.
Training participants will also be instructed on how to provide preferred dates for survey nights. Surveys are conducted at high tide in the evening between 8 p.m. and midnight during peak spawning in May and June. The total time commitment per night will range from two to three hours, depending on how many horseshoe crabs there are to count.
Since 1990, horseshoe crab spawning surveys have been conducted by volunteers counting crabs on Delaware Bay beaches in Delaware and in New Jersey. Despite the horseshoe crab’s importance to the ecology of the bay, little is known about its population status, organizers said.
“The data collected by volunteers during these surveys is key for scientists to monitor changes in numbers of spawning crabs in the Delaware Bay,” said DNERR Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta. “And Delaware’s well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers have made this program one of the most successful volunteer-based wildlife surveys in the country.”
For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring, contact Maggie Pletta at (302) 739-6377 or email Margaret.Pletta@state.de.us. For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring and other DNERR programs, visit http://de.gov/dnerr.
The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is a partnership between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. DNERR is administered through the Delaware Coastal Programs Section of DNREC’s Office of the Secretary.
The project is part of DNREC’s Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development. For more information, go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Pages/Delaware-Bayshore.aspx.
2015 horseshoe crab spawning
survey dates and times of high tide
Survey date Time of high tide*
Friday, May 1 8:03 p.m.
Sunday, May 3 9:18 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5 10:35 p.m.
Saturday, May 16 8:14 p.m.
Monday, May 18 9:50 p.m.
Wednesday, May 20 11:22 p.m.
Sunday, May 31 8:08 p.m.
Tuesday, June 2 9:31 p.m.
Thursday, June 4 10:59 p.m.
Sunday, June 14 7:57 p.m.
Tuesday, June 17 9:32 p.m.
Thursday, June 18 10:59 p.m.
*Note that times listed above are the high tides for the DNERR-coordinated beaches only. Participants who are interested in other Delaware Bay beaches not coordinated by DNERR are welcome to attend the training and will be referred to the appropriate beach leader for further information.