Horseshoe crab study needs help
Heading to the Beach? Help Biologists Monitor Horseshoe Crabs.
Spring marks horseshoe crabs’ mating season, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists are requesting the public’s help identifying spawning sites. Beachgoers will likely have the best luck spotting mating horseshoe crabs around high tide, just before, during or after a new or full moon. The conditions around the next full moons on April 25 and May 5 will create ideal opportunities to view the spawning behavior of horseshoe crabs.
Beachgoers lucky enough to spot horseshoe crabs are asked to note how many they see and whether the horseshoe crabs are mating. If possible, the observer should also count how many horseshoe crabs are mating adults and how many are juveniles (4 inches wide or smaller).
In addition, biologists ask observers to provide the date, time, location, habitat type and environmental conditions – such as tides and moon phase – when a sighting occurs.
There are several options available to report your sighting: Go to MyFWC.com/Contact and click on the “Submit a Horseshoe Crab Survey” link, then “Florida Horseshoe Crab Spawning Beach Survey.” You can also report findings via email at horseshoe@MyFWC.com or by phone at 866-252-9326.
Alligator snapping turtles holding on
In 2010, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed staff to review the status of all state-listed species that had not undergone review in the past decade. To address this charge, staff conducted a literature review and solicited information from the public on the status of the alligator snapping turtle. A Biological Review Group (BRG) of experts on the species was subsequently convened.
The draft of the alligator snapping turtle report was released on March 13, 2013.
The study determined that, within Florida, the turtles’ area of occupancy was less than 800 square miles but not “severely fragmented” and, in the event of a catastrophic event eliminating much of a Florida population, population rescue could be achieved by importing turtles from Georgia and Alabama.
Based on the literature review, information received from the public and the BRG findings, FWC staff recommended the alligator snapping turtles not be listed as a Threatened Species.
The principal past threat to alligator snapping turtles historically was harvest for food by humans. In 2009, FWC prohibited all take and possession of the species. Pet owners who possessed alligator snapping turtles before July 2009 were required to obtain a Class III Personal Pet Permit to keep those turtles and limits possession to one alligator snapping turtle.
The State of Georgia lists the alligator snapping turtle as Threatened, with no take except by permit, under its Endangered Wildlife Act of 1973.
Although it does not have an endangered species law, Alabama lists the alligator snapping turtle as a nongame species with no allowable take except by special permit.
In Florida, alligator snapping turtles are restricted to rivers, streams, and associated permanent freshwater habitats.
Food items include fish, turtles, snakes, birds, mollusks, and other aquatic organisms, with some vegetation, including nuts and fruits.
Females lay a single clutch of 17 to 52 eggs per year; nesting typically occurs from late April to mid-May. Young emerge from nests in August and September.