Tuesday, 05 Dec 2023

Meet the prehistoric creature that's saving lives -- and needs saving

Meet the prehistoric creature that's saving lives -- and needs saving

LONG ISLAND (Writer) - If you've ever gotten a vaccine, including the COVID vaccine, you have a very unlikely creature to thank. The horseshoe crab.

For the last 40 years, the blue blood from the horseshoe crab, a creature which predates the dinosaurs and has survived all of Earth's five mass extinctions, has been used to safely manufacture vaccines, medicines and vitamins.

But, the horseshoe crab population is declining in our area and around the world due, in part, to fishermen using them for bait, according to Dr. John Tanacredi, who operates the only horseshoe crab breeding facility in the Western Hemisphere, which is located in West Sayville, on New York's Long Island.

Tanacredi, who has been studying horseshoe crabs for years at the Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring at Molloy College, said New York State has one of the worst records in the country for the maintenance of its horseshoe crab population.

He said it's in part because of the state's harvesting rules, which allow fishermen to harvest horseshoe crabs for bait. The bait is used to fish for conch and eel. In New York, someone can harvest up to five horseshoe crabs everyday without a permit. With a commercial permit, fishermen can harvest 150 horseshoe crabs daily as of April 2022.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has set a harvesting cap of 150,000 horseshoe crabs for 2022. Tanacredi said the horseshoe crab population from Brooklyn to the eastern tip of Long Island has been declining since at least 2003.

"They should not be captured for bait anymore," Tanacredi said. "They need to be protected." In 2007, New Jersey made it illegal to harvest horseshoe crabs. Many attempts have been made in the New York State Legislature to try to change the horseshoe crab harvesting rules, but none has passed. While obtaining blue blood from horseshoe crabs is relatively harmless, thousands of them die every year after being put back in the water. Animal rights activists have called upon the pharmaceutical industry to use synthetic blue blood, but the industry has been reluctant. Tanacredi said authentic blue blood is considered the gold standard for quality control testing for vaccines and medicines.

Tanacredi said the other factor threatening the horseshoe crab population is destruction of their natural habitat from development by humans. However, Tanacredi said he believes the harvesting of horseshoe crabs for bait is the main factor causing horseshoe crabs to be considered a "vulnerable species."

More in International

Russia takes losses in failed river crossing, officials say

KYIV, Ukraine (Writer) — Russia suffered heavy losses when Ukrainian forces destroyed the pontoon bridge enemy troops were using to try to cross a river in the east, Ukrainian and British officials said in another sign of Moscow's struggle to salvage a war gone awry.

Ukrainian authorities, meanwhile, opened the fi...

Out-of-control truck slams into Westbury home, narrowly missing sleeping 13-year-old

WESTBURY (Writer) -- An out-of-control truck careened through several rooms of a house on Long Island early Thursday, crashing through a fence before coming to rest in a neighbor's yard.

The driver of the Chevy Silverado lost control, barreled off of the Wantagh Parkway and crashed into the home...

75 New Jersey gas stations lowering prices Friday in push for self-service legislation

NEW JERSEY (Writer) -- More than 75 gas stations throughout New Jersey are lowering their prices on Friday as part of an effort to demonstrate how allowing self-serve gasoline could help curb inflation.

New Jersey is the only state in the nation that does not allow drivers to pump their own gas, a...

WOODBURY (Writer) -- Eyewitness News was a sponsor of a fundraiser for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Long Island on May 4.

The annual Catwalk for Kids Fashion Show was held in Woodbury, with the event showcasing nearly two dozen Bigs with their Littles dressed in the latest fashion.

The clothing was donated by local retailers, and stylists provided free hair and makeup for the childr...

Bill to Guarantee Abortion Rights Fails in Senate

WASHINGTON (Writer)— Democrats tried and failed on Wednesday to push forward legislation to guarantee abortion rights nationwide, as Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate blocked an effort to enshrine the landmark Roe v. Wade precedent in federal law.

With 51 senators opposed and 49 in support, Democrats fell short of the ...

John Eastman Pressed Pennsylvania Legislator to Throw Out Biden Votes

WASHINGTON — Even by the standards of other ideas promoted by the conservative lawyer John Eastman to keep President Donald J. Trump in the White House after his election loss in 2020, a newly revealed strategy he proposed to take votes from Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Pennsylvania stands out as especially brazen.


After Roe Leak, Supreme Court Starts to Resemble Other Branches

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court used to be a magisterial temple of silence, capable of guarding its secrets until it was ready to disclose them. It leaked less than intelligence agencies, old hands in Washington would say, in a tone of awe and envy.

Members of the court, too, took pride in running a very tight ship...

“Company” star Patti Lupone drew cheers and applause from the audience as she cursed out an audience member trying to disobey the theater’s mask rules.

It happened during a Q&A after the show “Company,” which she stars in. The cast, unmasked but up on stage far from any audience members, was seated in a row onstage at New York City’s Bernard B. Jaco...

NYPD officer released from hospital after being shot in the Claremont section of the Bronx

CLAREMONT (Writer)- A New York City police officer was shot in the arm in a gun fight with a suspect in the Bronx Tuesday night, in the latest shooting involving an armed man with a prior gun arrest.

The 32-year-old officer, Dennis Vargas, was treated and released from Lincoln Hospital as an o...

Long Island (Writer)-The shooter killed in a Bronx gunfight with two NYPD cops was turned loose by a judge over the protests of prosecutors following his March 2020 arrest for carrying a loaded weapon.

Prosecutors requested $50,000 bail after Rameek Smith, 25, was busted while armed with a .32 caliber pistol two years ago in Coney Island — but the request was rejected in October 202...

NEW YORK (Writer)- It's just a simulation, but it feels real, as the employee carrying out the demonstration inside Actuate offices in Midtown Manhattan walks in carrying a mock AR-15 rifle.

In a matter of seconds, after the employee is visible in the office space, a surveillance camera in the room goes into action.

A green flash pulsates across the monitor set up in another cor...

New York (Writer) -A New York judge said Wednesday he’s close to releasing Donald Trump from a contempt finding, but only if the former president meets certain conditions, including paying $110,000 in fines accrued for failing to turn over documents in a state civil investigation.

Judge Arthur Engoron said he will conditionally lift Trump’s contempt finding if, by May 20, Trum...