The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is seeking volunteers to assist with the annual baywide horseshoe crab spawning survey in May and June at Ted Harvey Wildlife Area, Kitts Hummock and North Bowers beaches.

DNERR staff will host two volunteer training sessions at the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. All new volunteers are required to attend one of the two sessions and must be at least 7 years old to participate in the survey. Volunteers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Past participants are also strongly encouraged to attend a training session.

  • Thursday, April 5th, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14th, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Register for the training online by visiting, For more information on horseshoe crab monitoring or volunteering at DNERR, contact Jennifer Holmes at 302-739-3436 or Find us on facebook – Delaware NERR.

Volunteers will learn how to conduct the survey, properly record data and distinguish between male and female horseshoe crabs. As part of the training, Jordan Zimmerman with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will also highlight results of horseshoe crab survey data and how it is being used.

In addition, training participants will have first preference for beach and date signups for the DNERR coordinated beaches. Participants who are interested in other Delaware Bay beaches not coordinated by DNERR are welcome to attend the training and will be referred to the appropriate beach leader for further information.

2012 Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey Dates and High Tide Times

Survey Date                                                              Time of High Water

Thursday, May 3

8:00 PM

Saturday, May 5

9:45 PM

Monday, May 7

11:28 PM

Friday, May 18

8:59 PM

Sunday, May 20

10:12 PM

Tuesday, May 22

11:26 PM

Saturday, June 2

8:33 PM

Monday, June 4

10:21 PM

Thursday, June 7

12:06 AM

Sunday, June 17

9:07 PM

Tuesday, June 19

10:25 PM

Thursday, June 21

11:42 PM

Please note that the times listed are the high tides for the DNERR coordinated beaches only. The total time commitment per night will range from 2 to 3 hours, depending on how many horseshoe crabs there are to count.

Since 1990, surveys have been conducted of horseshoe crabs spawning in Delaware Bay.  Despite the horseshoe crab’s importance to the ecology of the Bay, little is known about its population status. The data collected by volunteers during these surveys is key for scientists to monitor changes in numbers of spawning crabs in the Bay.  Now, every spring on several peak spawning days, volunteers donate their time to count crabs on key beaches in Delaware and in New Jersey. Delaware’s well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers have made this program one of the most successful volunteer based wildlife surveys in the country.

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