scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Harvesting horseshoe crabs for their blue blood has readers seeing red

Stills from a corporate video show the bleeding of horseshoe crabs at the Charles River Laboratories facility in South Carolina.Charles River Laboratories

We know of more sustainable methods for harvesting horseshoe crabs

David Abel has clearly described the growing pressures on our Massachusetts horseshoe crab population, pressures that are replicated all along the Eastern Seaboard (”Drawing blue blood — and criticism,” A1, July 18).

Since the 1960s, coastal residents of Massachusetts have witnessed the steady decline in horseshoe crab numbers. We now know the value of these animals, not only to the world of medicine, but to the marine ecosystem. Especially important, and irreplaceable, are the horseshoe crab eggs to the nourishment of many thousands of shorebirds that frequent our shores.

Given what we have learned, why are we harvesting horseshoe crabs during their limited spawning season? Why are we taking gravid females?


We need to make some revisions to our practices before time runs out — even for a species that precedes the dinosaurs by 200 million years.

Brenda Boleyn

Horseshoe Crab Conservation Association


A vulnerable species made more vulnerable — shame on us

Captured for bait, fertilizer, American horseshoe crabs are a species in peril. We see extinction coming for the North Atlantic right whale, perhaps the Atlantic cod, then lobster off our waters, and now, thanks to harvesting by Charles River Laboratories and others, horseshoe crabs are allowed to be bled till we possibly bleed this species toward extinction. Why? Horseshoe blood is a $500 billion dollar industry.

Up to 1,000 could be bled each day per licensed biomedical harvester. With horseshoe crabs, it’s not NIMBY, it’s YIOBY — yes, in our backyard. Our state enabled Charles River Laboratories and others to further endanger an already vulnerable species.

Shame on us.

Sebastian Mudry

West Harwich