Saving the Horseshoe Crab: The Case for the Oft-Forgotten, Critically Important Living Fossil
34 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 9, 2019
For more than forty years, the biomedical industry has harvested the blood of horseshoe crabs in order to test vaccines and medications for lethal endotoxins. Unfortunately, this blood harvest is not without consequence. Today, the American horseshoe crab is on the road to extinction. The biomedical industry and the fishing bait industry threaten this important natural resource. Fishery regulators, aware of the dangers, have taken some actions to curb bait overfishing. However, those measures are not enough to reverse the path toward extinction because they neglect to regulate biomedical harvest in any meaningful way. This note explains the importance of the horseshoe crab to humankind and argues why current conservation efforts are insufficient. Then, it details the invention of a synthetic substitute for the crab’s blood and explains the obstacles to its full adoption. Finally, it outlines short- and long-term courses of action that might preserve this important species.
Keywords: horseshoe, crab, horseshoe crab, living fossil, blue blood, LAL, rFC
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