Presentation: Horseshoe Crabs and Birds of Delaware Bay

Registrations are now being taken for –

Thursday, April 14 at 7:30 pm at the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy’s brownstone barn located at the corner of Rte. 73 and Haldeman Rds. Schwenksville, PA, Ron Smith and his daughter Lily, will share their work on behalf of the horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds of the Delaware Bay.  They will update us on the health of the ecosystem, current regulations and preservation efforts underway.

During the months of May and June the world’s largest gathering of spawning horseshoe crabs emerge from the benthos of the Delaware Bay to lay millions of tiny blue/green eggs on the broad sandy beaches.  In turn, these eggs are feasted upon by migratory birds flying great distances from South America.  These birds rely on the eggs for the energy they need to reach their breeding grounds in the far north and to produce young.  For thousands of years, this natural ebb and flow of energy between species has taken place.

Currently there are numerous challenges including human development, medical research, the fishing industry and even storms which have altered the habitat for the horseshoe crabs.  Rising out of concern for all the affected species a young girl, 7 year old Lily Smith, accompanied her Dad to the bay shores in an effort to save the horseshoe crabs.  Today, as an eighth grader, Lily has become part of a team of volunteers known as Return the Favor.  For the last three years, these teams of volunteers have walked the shores to turn over crabs that have been stranded on their backs, drying under the hot sun or injured by gulls, allowing the crabs to return to the water.  The volunteers have also removed individuals  who were trapped in the debris when they swam up on the high tides. Through these simple efforts alone, Return the Favor has been able to save over 10,000 horseshoe crabs since their beginning in 2013.

Join us to learn how this father/daughter team’s very personal response to these fragile interrelationships grew into a citizen science project which now tracks data and informs the scientific community.

 Ron Smith is an environmental science educator from Merchantville, NJ where he teaches K-12 environmental science in the Haddonfield School District. His programs and classes emphasize citizen science, field studies, and ecological restoration. In the summer Ron leads the Life Science Field Training Institute for Pinelands Preservation Alliance – a program that offers teacher training and experience with field study techniques in the NJ Pine Barrens and regional coastal ecosystems. Ron also serves as Family Camp ll Director for National Audubon Society’s Hog Island summer program series.  Ron has collaborated on science education projects with the Academy of Natural Sciences, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Camden County Parks, Drexel University, and Stockton College. Ron enjoys Irish fiddle, hiking, birding, and exploring the natural world with his wife Lisa, children Lily and Gabriel, and dog Linus.