International Horseshoe Crab Day | UPSC
International Horseshoe Crab Day: Species under grave threat in Odisha
WHY IN NEWS:
Hundreds of the crabs have been killed in Odisha each year to supply their meat and shells to Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and other states
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:IUCN : Conservation of biodiversity
For PRELIMS it is important to understand the significance of this day and most important Beibu Gulf Declaration ! Just make a note right now .
For MAINS keep an eye on why and how these endangered species are loosing habitat .
- Horseshoe crab is regarded as a marine ‘living fossil’.
- The horseshoe crab is a marine chelicerate arthropod living in shallow coastal waters on soft sandy or muddy bottom .
THERE ARE FOUR EXTANT HORSESHOE CRAB SPECIES:
- AMERICAN HORSESHOE CRAB : (Limulus polyphemus) along the eastern coast of USA and in the Gulf of Mexico.
- INDO-PACIFIC SPECIES, the tri-spine horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus).
- COASTAL HORSESHOE CRAB : (Tachypleus gigas) .
- MANGROVE HORSESHOE CRAB : (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) in coastal waters of India, southeast Asia, China and Japan.
ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE :
- The horseshoe crab is a critical link to coastal biodiversity.
- One of their ecological functions is to lay millions of eggs on beaches to feed shorebirds, fish and other wildlife.
- Its large hard shell serves as microhabitat for many other species such as sponges, mud crabs, mussels and snails.
- Unfortunately, this ecological link can be broken in areas where population density is low.
- Over-harvesting for use as food.
- Hunting and biomedical testing.
- Habitat loss.
- Shoreline alterations that are engineered to protect beaches from erosion and sea level rise.
WHY THEY ARE HUNTED ?
- The blood of horseshoe crabs is used and harvested in high quantities today to test that a wide range of medical products are not contaminated.
- “It is believed that consumption of horseshoe crab meat can lengthen a person’s lifespan.
PROTECTION STATUS :
The horseshoe crab was included on September 9, 2009 in the Schedule IV of the Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972, under which, the catching and killing of a horseshoe crab is an offence.
IUCN STATUS / SOURCES : www.iucnredlist.org
BEIBU GULF DECLARATION :
- To call for strengthening of policy making and better enforcement,
- More scientific investigations and research, sustainable management of horseshoe crabs,
- Restoring natural populations and protecting their critical habitats,
- Promoting public and multi-party participation in horseshoe crab conservation.
“The aim behind the day is to generate greater awareness for these ancient creatures and help in their conservation,”.