Since Greek and Roman times a full moon has been blamed as the trigger for all sorts of weird goings-on. An article in Scientific American said:
“Even today many people think the mystical powers of the full moon induce erratic behaviors, psychiatric hospital admissions, suicides, homicides, emergency room calls, traffic accidents, fights at professional hockey games, dog bites and all manner of strange events.”
There’s some scientific debate as to whether this cause and effect relationship actually exists, but on a recent early-morning beach walk, we saw first hand at least one behavior that confirmed it – horseshoe crabs makin’ whoopee on the day of the full moon.
Horseshoe crabs aren’t the most attractive sea creature, but the species has been essentially the same for the past 230 million years, making it a “living fossil.” One requirement for their longevity is the ability to mate successfully, and this is where the moon comes in.
In the spring and summer, for the female, the full moon is a neon light saying – dig a nest and lay eggs … lots of them.
And for the male the sign says, hook up (literally) with a female, and fertilize the 2000 to 20,000 eggs she will lay.
If you’re wondering why the ocean isn’t overrun by horseshoe crabs, for these sanderlings and other shore birds, the moon says … fooooood!
We were lucky to meet a knowledgable local guy who gave us an impromptu and hands-on discourse on the specifics of the mating process.
After a successfull date, the female makes her way back into the ocean. And if these curly tracks are any indicator, the whole experience is a bit disorienting.
The beach is a great place to swim and catch some rays, but with some luck and an observant eye, it can be a personal bio-lab. And we love it for this.
Photo Credit: 1. By veggiegretz