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Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey volunteer training offered

English: Red Knot feeding on eggs of Horseshoe...English: Red Knot feeding on eggs of Horseshoe crabs. Mispillion Harbor, Delaware (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday, April 2 and Wednesday, April 6

DOVER DELAWARE(March 24, 2016) – DNREC’s Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is seeking volunteers to assist with the annual bay-wide horseshoe crab spawning survey in May and June on 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 volunteer training sessions at the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover DE 19901. New participants are required to attend one of the trainings, while past participants in the annual survey must attend a training once every three years. Volunteers can choose from one of the three trainings scheduled for:


·         Saturday, April 2 from 9 to 11 a.m.

·         Saturday, April 2 from 2 to 4 p.m.

·         Wednesday, April 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Volunteers are asked to register online before the day of the training by visiting For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring or volunteering at DNERR, contact Drexel Siok or Maggie Pletta at 302-739-6377 or email them at [email protected] .

Since 1990 horseshoe crab spawning surveys have been conducted in Delaware Bay. Despite the horseshoe crab’s importance to the ecology of the Bay, little is known about its population status.. Now, every spring on several peak spawning days, volunteers donate their time to count crabs on beaches in Delaware and New Jersey. Data collected during these surveys is key for scientists to monitor changes in numbers of spawning crabs in the Bay. Delaware’s well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers have made this program one of the most successful volunteer-based wildlife surveys in the country.

At the training, volunteers will learn how to conduct a 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.     

In addition, those participating will be instructed on how to request preferred dates for survey nights. 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 survey leader for further information. Volunteers must be older than 13 to participate in the training and survey, and all volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

2016 Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey Dates and Times of High Tide

        Survey Date

Day of Week

High Tide at St Jones River Entrance*

May 4


8:26 PM

May 6


10:09 PM

May 8


11:51 PM

May 19


9:06 PM

May 21


10:19 PM

May 23


11:33 PM

June 2


8:05 PM

June 4


9:52 PM

June 6


11:34 PM

June 18


9:12 PM

June 20


10:32 PM

June 22


11:52 PM

* Times are for beaches coordinated by the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve only

Please note that the times listed are the high tides for the DNERR-coordinated beaches only. The total time commitment per night will range from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the number of horseshoe crabs found on a beach.

Information on registering to participate in the survey will be sent to volunteers who have completed the training and to those who participated in the training and survey over the past three years. To participate in the survey, pre-registration will be required.  

For information on horseshoe crab monitoring, volunteer information and more, please visit or find us on Facebook -Delaware NERR

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is a partnership between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. DNERR is administered through the Delaware Coastal Programs Section of DNREC’s Office of the Secretary.

This 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, click Delaware Bayshore.