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1,000s Dead Horseshoe Crabs After Surveying for Underwater High Voltage Electrical Cables

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

By Carol Frazier, Member Republican Women of Worchester County


I saw my first horseshoe crab when I was about 5 or 6 years old while visiting my Mom’s family in Sussex County. I recall thinking EWWWW, the crabs were just about the ugliest things I had ever seen.


My opinion of horseshoe crabs has totally changed. As an adult I have learned how essential crabs are to medicine. According to the NIH, American horseshoe crabs play an indispensable role in biomedical research. Not only does their blood contain special cells that scientists use to detect bacteriotoxins in our medicine and delivery systems, but their eyes also contain a neural network that provides much insight into our own visual system. You can read all about it at www.pubmed.ncbi.nim.nih.gov.


The blue blood of horseshoe crabs may be one of the most valuable liquids on earth - currently valued at $15,000.00 per quart, it is used throughout the biomedical field to secure the safety of just about anything you can think of from vaccinations to surgery to cancer treatment research. If you have ever had a vaccine, chances are it was tested for safety using horseshoe crab blood. If you have ever had surgery, you should be very grateful for its use in detecting endotoxins, which can contaminate antibiotics and surgical equipment. One-third of the blood of the crabs is extracted and then they are returned to the ocean.


Given all these facts, and the fact that the crab is already on the “endangered species list”, it is more than disturbing that there was a “horseshoe crab stranding” on the beach at Delaware State Park the weekend of October 7th just west of where Offshore Wind Surveying (OWS) is currently happening. The pictures of hundreds if not thousands of dead horseshoe crabs are horrifying. A “stranding” of this type has never occurred before according to locals who study the crabs and are involved in conservation efforts. There is evidence that someone tried to “clean up” the evidence, but the pictures both before and after tell the story.


Dead horseshoe crabs on Delaware Beach after sonar testing
1,000s of "stranded" horseshoe crabs on Delaware Beach October 7, 2023

Is it just a coincidence that this occurred after only five (5) days of surveying of the ocean floor for high voltage offshore wind export cable positioning? The surveying by US Wind and Orsted from the vessels Shackleford and Atlantic Bounty is being done RIGHT IN the 1,500 square mile Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary. Let me repeat that - it is being done IN the SANCTUARY.


By the way, I just recently found out that this sanctuary is the largest horseshoe crab breeding habitat on Earth.


This is only one of the problems that can, most likely, be laid at the feet of the OSW industry and those supporting it with our tax dollars. There is also the increased deaths of whales and dolphins where OSW activity is occurring, and the sudden scarcity of certain beloved seafood items. Additionally, we have been repeatedly misled about the size, number and location of the turbines, which is continuously changing without requiring additional approvals or environmental impact assessments. This must be challenged, and we must demand clarity and accountability.


Isn’t it time to tell our Federal and State agencies that we need a complete moratorium on offshore wind exploration and development until all this can be figured out?


UPDATE! Although a few of us enthusiastic commenters, signed up for Monday, October 30, 2023, after 30 testimonies we gave up. The comment period was stacked with renewable worshipers. Therefore, you can submit comments to BOEM https://www.regulations.gov/search?filter=BOEM-2023-0050 Click on the comment button, enter the information and click "Submit". We encourage you to do so, takes only a few minutes. Comment period closes November 20, 2023.


This column was published in the “Delmarva Courier” on October 18, 2023



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