Red Knots & Horseshoe Crabs: A Talk by Author Deborah Cramer, March 21

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Join us for a talk by Deborah Cramer, author of The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey, Tuesday, March 21, at 7 p.m., at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies’ Kroon Hall,  in New Haven.

Each spring a small shorebird called the Red Knot migrates from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic, stopping on the way on Atlantic Coast beaches, including several in Connecticut.

Its flight coincides with a different migration – that of the familiar horseshoe crab. When the moon is full in spring, horseshoe crabs emerge from Long Island Sound and other coastal waters to lay their eggs, a prime source of protein for Red Knots.

It’s a feat of biological timing that has gone on for eons. But both creatures are in peril now. Red Knot numbers are so low that it has been listed as federally threatened; the entire American population of horseshoe crabs is now considered vulnerable.

And considering the benefits to medicine that horseshoe crabs provide, their demise could have major consequences on human health.

Cramer’s talk will be the first in a spring series presented by the Connecticut Audubon Society, called “Conservation Lectures: Defending the Earth, its People, and its Wildlife.”

Major support for the lectures is generously provided by Lawrence J. Lunden, a former member of Connecticut Audubon’s state Board of Directors.

The event is part of a Connecticut Audubon’s spring campaign to call attention to the risks  Connecticut’s birds and other wildlife will face if the U.S. Endangered Species Act is gutted, as many members of Congress have threatened.

The Endangered Species Act protects locally-nesting birds such as the endangered Roseate Tern and the threatened Piping Plover. Changes to the Act could roll back the recovery of birds such as the Bald Eagle and Osprey, which escaped extinction largely because of protections provided by the Endangered Species Act.

A visiting scholar at MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative, Cramer followed Red Knots during their spring migration and watched them as they arrived on Atlantic coast beaches to feed on horseshoe crab eggs.

In addition to the plight of the Red Knot and the horseshoe crab, her talk will also focus on the use of the horseshoe crab’s blue blood to detect harmful bacteria during surgery on humans, a procedure that protects patients from life-threatening infections.

Copies of The Narrow Edge will be for sale, and the talk will be followed by a book signing by the author.

“The Narrow Edge is at once an intimate portrait of the small red knot and a much larger exploration of our wondrous, imperiled world.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction

Honors for The Narrow Edge:
Best Book, National Academy of Sciences
Rachel Carson Book Award
Winner of the Reed Award in Environmental Writing

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