The Life You Save May Be Your Own!

“In mid-May, the first horseshoe crabs started to emerge from Plum Island Sound in Northern Massachusetts. But this year they would have a special significance for a planet riddled with an insidious new COVID-19 coronavirus.”

“The first crab seen was a female crab. I had cataloged her the year before and named her Barnacle Babe because her shell was covered with a dozen barnacles. The barnacles had rubbed off during the winter but had left their telltale white rings.“

“Barnacle Babe may have been resting after coming ashore to lay her eggs during the last new moon of March. She would be doing it again during the full and new moon high tides of April, May, and June.“

“Horseshoe crabs have done this since well before birds, fish, mammals, and dinosaurs roamed the earth. The only creatures on land at the time were mosses, ferns, and giant dragonflies with three-foot-long wingspans, all destined to become the coal that powered the industrial revolution and filled our atmosphere with heat-trapping carbon dioxide.“

“Watching horseshoe crabs spawn is my favorite rite of spring. But this year it would have particular significance because their blue, copper-based blood will be used to make sure that the vaccine and antibody tests for COVID-19 are not contaminated with Gram-negative bacteria, which are as lethal as they are ubiquitous in nature.“

“This unique property makes a quart of processed horseshoe crab blood worth $30,000 and a single crab worth $3,000 if you keep it alive and just use it for its blood. If you chop it up and use it for bait, it is only worth about thirty cents a pound.“

“The crabs’ unique life-saving ability was first exhibited during the 1976 swine flu disaster when thousands of people developed crippling neurological problems after “every man, woman, and child” were vaccinated … but the flu never materialized.“

“The vaccination program had been ordered by President Ford, who wanted to prove he could do something besides pardoning former President Nixon. The fiasco showed the dangers of trying to make a political calculation based on the behavior of such an elusive virus. Donald Trump should take heed.“

“So, if you find a horseshoe crab on its back, flip it over so seagulls will not tear out its book gills. Use the edge of its shell — it won’t bite or sting. Its tail might appear to make a far more inviting handle, but using it might cause the crab to hemorrhage blue blood. You will have saved a life, and it might eventually be your own.“


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