Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘horseshoe crabs’ Category

CBC Radio Canada Highlights CWF in Story on Horseshoe Crabs in COVID Vaccine Tests

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

by Ethan Gilardi, Assistant Biologist

Photo by: Joe Reynolds

CBC Radio Canada program “The Current” interviewed Conserve Wildlife Foundation executive director David Wheeler for its feature on the fascinating story of New Jersey’s horseshoe crabs playing an irreplaceable role in the urgent search for an effective COVID-19 vaccine.


Conservationists are raising concerns that horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds that feed on them could become unexpected casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The milky blue blood of this ancient animal has made it into a modern medical marvel,” David Wheeler, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, said of the horseshoe crab.

The medical industry captures the critters to draw out some of their blood, because it contains a unique component called limulus amebocyte lysate, or LAL. LAL can detect harmful toxins in vaccines — including those being produced for COVID-19 — or other medicine undergoing testing, he told The Current‘s Matt Galloway

“It’s really extraordinary,” said Wheeler. “The concern now, of course, is at some point we would really like to see it shift to a synthetic alternative rather than continuing to only use the crabs for that.”

ABC Action News: Horseshoe crabs play key role in race for COVID-19 vaccine

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

by Walter Perez

Horseshoe crab blood is hypersensitive to dangerous bacteria that can develop in injectable medicines and vaccines.

In the race for a vaccine for COVID-19, horseshoe crabs – a New Jersey coastal fixture both now and eons ago in the days before the dinosaurs – may play a vital role.

This video story by ABC Action News features CWF Executive Director David Wheeler and top shorebird scientist Dr. Larry Niles in telling this science fiction-like tale.

Watch the video & read more on 6abc.com.

NorthJersey.com: How NJ’s horseshoe crabs are key to a COVID-19 vaccine

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

by Scott Fallon, NorthJersey.com

Horseshoe crabs spawning at Thompsons Beach in May 2015. Photo by Joe Smith.

Perhaps the most remarkable creature to call the waters off New Jersey home is older than the dinosaurs, helps balance the state’s ecosystem and looks like it crept out of the “Aliens” movie franchise.

Now the horseshoe crab is playing a vital role in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with billions of doses expected to be produced worldwide over the next several years.

“It’s absolutely worthwhile for horseshoe crabs to be used in the development of a vaccine,” said David Wheeler, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “They play an extraordinary role in public health. But they are irreplaceable in New Jersey and Delaware for how they keep the bird population alive.”

Click here to continue reading.

National Geographic covers CWF horseshoe crab work in Delaware Bay

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

by Carrie Arnold – National Geographic

An Atlantic horseshoe crab lies on the beach in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, not far from Delaware Bay. Photograph by Joel Sartore.

National Geographic’s Carrie Arnold recently wrote about the role horseshoe crabs and their “special” blood are set to play in the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine. She spoke with CWF partner Larry Niles about the horseshoe crab’s importance to the health of the Delaware Bay and what this means for the bay’s future.

Check out the excerpt below and read the full article on National Geographic!


Each spring, guided by the full moon, hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs clamber onto beaches across the U.S. mid-Atlantic to lay their eggs. For hungry birds, it’s a cornucopia. For drug companies, it’s a crucial resource for making human medicines safe.

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Species On The Edge 2.0 Contest Winners Honored In Live-streamed Virtual Awards Ceremony

Monday, June 29th, 2020

by Morgan Mark, CWF Intern

Virtual award ceremony participants from left to right: (top row) CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, PSEG Foundation Chairman Rick Thigpen, CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, Third Place Winner Lauren Johnson, First Place Winner Virginia Higgins, and Second Place Winner Rory Leadbeater

If you browse through social media, you will find some incredibly creative and effective ways to help imperiled wildlife. You might be compelled by calls-to-action, experience stunning photographs, or may even discover posts about New Jersey’s vulnerable species that—thanks to talented New Jersey high schoolers—got their share of screen time, likes, and retweets during the Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s (CWF) fifth annual Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media contest.

One of the winning Instagram posts by Virginia Higgins, highlighting the diets of Piping Plovers.

Over the course of 8 days, hundreds of students from across the state created Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts about animals that the CWF protects. Through campaigns that featured original artwork, photos, and infographics, contestants took the internet by storm, rose awareness about their chosen species, and garnered nearly 12,000 likes. 

The three finalists were celebrated on June 18 in a Facebook Live virtual awards ceremony. The PSEG Foundation sponsored the contest and provided scholarships to the winners.

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