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Conservation efforts being made to save Maryland horseshoe crabs. Here's why it's important.

A conservation effort to save endangered horseshoe crabs
A conservation effort to save endangered horseshoe crabs 02:11

BALTIMORE - Conservation efforts are in the works to save endangered horseshoe crabs as they begin migration onto Maryland beaches. 

Protecting the horseshoe crab is crucial as the ancient species play a vital role in the aquatic ecosystem and the field of medicine. 

"They will be coming in with the full moons and laying eggs on the beaches," said Toni Kerns, a fisheries policy director.

From May through July, female horseshoe crabs will lay about 20,000 eggs. 

"Their eggs are a food source for migrating shorebirds," Kerns said. "They are also preyed upon by larger species like sharks and sea turtles." 

Horseshoe crabs also contribute to biomedical research. Their blood detects toxins and bacteria harmful to humans. 

"If you have ever had a vaccine, an injection or surgery you have benefited from the blood of a horseshoe crab," Kerns said. 

Efforts to conserve the endangered species are ongoing with the loss of habitat, amongst other factors, that have impacted their annual population. 

"We are doing our best to make sure we are accounting for all the different species that depend on horseshoe crab," Kerns said.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, claiming a lack of transparency, saying the state failed to release information detailing how thousands of horseshoe crabs are killed, bled or injured by pharmaceutical companies and fishermen annually.

"We want to make sure the horseshoe crab doesn't blink out doesn't go extinct," said William Snape, from the Center for Biological Diversity. "Learning this crucial information about exactly how many horseshoe crabs being taken when were how they are being taken and how many are being returned to the water, all pieces of information that is behind closed doors."

The Maryland Department of Resources declined to comment on the pending litigation. 

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