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2019-06-03. The Shorebirds of Delaware Bay Are Going Hungry.

posted Jun 4, 2019, 9:22 PM by Alan D. GOULD
By Jon Hurdle, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/science/bird-migration-horseshoe-crabs.html] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6. Excerpt: ...challenges like severe Arctic weather during breeding, or coastal development along the migration route, could lead to the bird’s extinction. Populations of other migratory shorebirds, like semipalmated sandpipers and ruddy turnstones, have also declined. The problem, conservationists say, is the overfishing of horseshoe crabs for commercial fishery bait and the harvesting of the animals for their blood, which contains an extract called L.A.L., used by the biomedical industry to detect certain bacteria. ...Now, conservationists are renewing calls to halt the harvest for bait altogether, and to persuade the biomedical industry to switch to recombinant Factor C (rFC), a synthetic alternative to LAL, to ease pressure on the horseshoe crab population. ...Recognizing the threat to the birds, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate regulator, banned the harvest of female horseshoe crabs for bait starting in 2013, in the hope that a recovering population of females would lay more eggs and allow the birds to rebound....