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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cape Co-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!-d

Our quick jaunt to Cape Cod last week included time for one full beach day. I decided to take us to West Dennis Beach in, uh, West Dennis, because it looked beautiful, was nearby and had loads of parking for us fashionably late beach goers.

When we pulled into our parking spot, my oldest, Belly, screeched, "WHAT IS THAT!?!"


"That" were horseshoe crabs, most likely brought up to the parking lot by some excited child and left behind by a horrified parent who noticed them as they packed up the sand pails.

We walked down to the water's edge and I started to get itchy because there were more. Literally, dozens and dozens of horseshoe crabs beached at the water's edge, up and down the shore.


None of them were alive.

"What the hell happened??", my brain asked in a high-pitched voice. Was there some sort of mass suicide of horseshoe crabs? And, why weren't the lifeguards screaming and pulling us off the beach? Surely there must be something wrong with the water if all of these creatures were washing up, lifeless, onto the shore.

I started to feel a little panicky, especially when D tried to pick one up and I got the crab mixed up with the stingray that killed the Crocodile Hunter. "PUT IT DOWN!"

And then I noticed something. There were kids playing with the crabs. There were horseshoe crab sculptures made out of the little bodies. There were castles built to house the lifeless shells. There were sand pails filled with the critters.

And strangely, there were seagulls still pestering us for snacks. Hey, seagulls, don't you see the crab buffet at the shore?

This, along with the strange color and small size of the crabs made me suspect that perhaps this wasn't a mass suicide or death by poisoning.


(here is a "normal-looking" horseshoe crab)

I came to conclude, and perhaps correctly, that the crabs were molting and the little shells we saw everywhere were just their discarded too-small outerwear. Thinking of them in this way made it a bit easier to deal with their presence.

But, there was still no way in hell we were going in the water on this beach trip.

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Blogger patty said...

I used to lifeguard on the Long Island Sound and we'd catch the horseshoe crabs en flagrante in the earlier days of the summer. "Why are the horseshoe crabs playing leapfrog, lifeguard?" Well, little Janey, pull up a chair and let's have a talk.

7:52 AM  
Blogger PsychMamma said...

Do you know if your theory is right? That DOES make it a LITTLE more comforting, but....

Your middle picture DEFINITELY looks like there's a crab inside. His little pincher feet are sticking out.

I remember (not fondly) the horseshoe crabs from our family vacay to Cape Cod. They were all over, but never in the way you describe.

This is only one of the MANY (creepy-crawly, slimy-swimmy) reasons that I don't swim in lakes, ponds or oceans. {shivers}

Hope the rest of your trip was good.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Wendi said...

Wow--those are fascinating! I'm pretty sure those are some of the oldest creatures on earth. At least, that's what I think I heard one time on PBS Kids.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Obi-Mom Kenobi said...

They're beautiful, in that truth is stranger than fiction kind of way

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Those are definitely horseshoe crab molts (I am a horseshoe crab biologist.) It makes me a little sad that you would stay out of the water because of them though.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

A horseshoe crab biologist! OMG, you are the perfect person to end up here! Thank you for clarifying that this was not some mass march of death.

Yeah, I'm bummed we didn't swim either. The water was SOOOOO warm, it was crazy. But, we only lasted on the beach for 2 hours b/c the wind was so strong, the sand hurt when it hit our skin. But, next time, we're making horseshoe crab shell sculptures and bringing them home to leave in unsuspecting ppls' mailboxes.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Nothing says "Fun Family Day" more than millions of crustacean skeletons.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are so cool! According to wiki horseshoe crabs are living fossils. They evolved 445 million years ago! WOW.

Amazing. But, yeah, a little freaky.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Gray Matter said...

One theory. Was there a Red Lobster nearby and was there an "All-you-can-eat-crabfest" going on?

Actually there were tons washed up at the Jersey Shore too, I think it had to do with the hurricane.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

I'm still laughing over your post's title.

I don't think I could swim either, but then again, I stomped all over periwinkles today without a second thought.

9:11 PM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in to say hello! I was in Florida last month and found a dead horseshoe crab!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

Yup, big fun here on the Cape. Did I mention the jellyfish problem my local beach has been having? I'm really not a beach person and this is precisely why. Because beaches = icky.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Patois said...

I laugh at the thought of you envisioning a horseshoe crab massacre.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Cristina said...

We went to the West Dennis Beach when we went to the Cape two weeks earlier than you. We rode our bikes twice there to play on the swings that are by the ocean. Like you, we saw a lot of horseshoe crabs when we went, but we certainly did not see as many as you so I guess we must have caught the beginning stages of molting. :)

9:00 PM  

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