Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hooray for Jersey

Save the crabs.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine on March 25 signed legislation imposing a moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs in New Jersey. Fines for the continued harvesting of horseshoe crabs will be $10,000 for the first offense and $25,000 for each subsequent offense.

Horseshoe crab eggs are a significant source of food for shore birds known as red knots. Over-harvesting of horseshoe crabs has led to a diminished supply of food for the red knots and has brought the species to the brink of extinction.

But I long have thought they deserve some respect beyond the utility of their eggs as bird food (and the utility of their odd blood in medical research).

I met them first in solid stone
when I trawled the quarry for smooth plates of Connecticut shale
instead of the sea for a living. There we hauled
the grandfathers of these
from rock two hundred million years deep.
We claw love and God, but they know
the better trick: be ugly and inedible.
The simple things
have watched the whole parade
of dinosaurs, heard the last beast’s dumb cry,
and seen stars burn out and die
from beaches that have turned to stone.