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Horseshoe Crab is Honored in Delaware

Image:  Horseshoe CrabOkay, the peach blossom is the state flower, and the state bug (yes, we have a state bug) is the Lady Bug. But what is the state marine animal?

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signed legislation in July declaring the horseshoe crab as Delaware's "official marine animal."

The declaration is the result of effort by Abigail Bradley, a student from Lewes. While a junior in high school, Bradley won first place honors in the Sussex County Science Fair for her research paper on horseshoe crab nest site selection. She also won the President's Environmental Youth Award and a DuPont Science Challenge Award for her horseshoe crab research.

After contacting the governor and her state representative, John Schroeder, Abigail convinced the legislator of the importance of the horseshoe crab and legislation was written to name the horseshoe crab as Delaware's marine animal.

Delaware was the first governmental body in the world to create legislation protecting the horseshoe crab, and is now the first state to have the horseshoe crab as its official marine animal.

The act reads as follows:
WHEREAS, horseshoe crabs are 500 million year old creatures; and
WHEREAS, horseshoe crabs contain a compound, limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) that is used to detect bacterial poisons in certain medications, vaccines and medical devices; and
WHEREAS, chitin from the shell of the horseshoe crab is used to make bandages; and
WHEREAS, the horseshoe crab is used in vision studies because their complex eye structure is similar to the human eye; and
WHEREAS, the horseshoe crab is the principal food source for over a million shore birds; and
WHEREAS, these wonderful marine animals are becoming extremely scarce in Delaware, experiencing a drop in population from 1,200,000 in 1990 to 200,000 in 1995; and
WHEREAS, the Delaware Bay remains the home to more horseshoe crabs than any other place in the world; and
WHEREAS, Delaware is proud to be the home of such important marine animals.
Section 1. Amend Chapter 3, Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding a new §318 thereto to read as follows:
"§318. State marine animal.
The official State marine animal is the horseshoe crab."

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Last modified on November 20, 2003.