Look at her over there, on the bottom of the mating heap… She’s gorgeous. I’ll bet that not a single one of the two dozen jerks crowding around her has any idea how special she is. They don’t care about her like I do… They only want to spawn, but who could blame them? She’s the most exquisite horseshoe crab I’ve ever seen! Oh, Claudette! If only I had the courage to tell her how I felt! Everything about her is grand, from the way she flicks her caudal spine to the gentle slope of her carapace… Her gnathobases are always well kept, and nobody’s gnathobases are well kept! But do those sleazeballs care? No. They ignore her all year long, and then the second she releases some pheromones into the tidal pool they just can’t wait to hook their grubby pedipalps into her opisthosoma. I’m not that way, Claudette. I love you.
Oh, Claudette! If you would only turn even one of your four compound eyes in my direction, I am certain you would see how perfect we are for each other. I would be so good to you, Claudette. If you were sore after a long day of plowing through loose sand scavenging for mollusks and annelids, I would gladly massage each of your legs with my pincers until you were completely at ease. If you were to live to the ripe old age of 25, I would stay by your side, supporting you and fertilizing each of the 900,000 eggs you will lay in your lifetime. I don’t care that not even one percent of those eggs will live long enough to become fully developed horseshoe crabs, for if I have helped any of your genes pass on to a new generation, then I have made the world a better place.
Alas, Claudette… I am not like those other male horseshoe crabs, mindlessly jostling one another out of the way in an effort to get my genital operculum closest to you, but how will you ever find out if I cannot get up the courage to approach you? You may not think it, Claudette, but your beauty intimidates as much as it captivates, if not more so. I am left helpless in your presence, like a limulus laying languidly on land with dessicated book flap gills, roasting in the sun as it lies supine on the shore. I would rather have a seven year old human poke my undersides with a stick for all eternity than hear you say that my unrequited love for you was not returned, Claudette, and so here I sit…. On the sandbar… Hoping you’ll pry yourself loose from the fertilization fest over there and tell me you love me. Ah… I am so lonely. Thank goodness I have this small colony of flatworms feeding off my food scraps to keep me company. Too bad I don’t speak flatworm.
Passionate pleading above imagined by Alex Berg, circa 2006.
Read more about horseshoe crabs in this very informative NPR article: Mating Season in Long Island Sound Is Prime Time for Horseshoe Crab Researchers
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul-w-locke/956705057/”>Paul-W</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ironammonite/5728371792/”>Paul Williams www.IronAmmonitePhotography.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>