Why in news? Horseshoe crabs, one of the oldest living creatures on earth and medicinally priceless, appear to be disappearing from their familiar spawning grounds along Chandipur and Balaramgadi coast in Odisha’s Balasore district.
- Scientists have urged Odisha government to come up with a robust protection mechanism before the living fossil becomes extinct due to destructive fishing practices.
- Like olive ridley sea turtles, these crabs are basically deep-sea animals and come to coasts of Balasore in Odisha and Digha and Sundarban in West Bengal for breeding purposes. They select a suitable site for laying their eggs.
- Only a few countries in the world have horseshoe crab population and India is one among them.
- This is the oldest living creature on earth and palaeontological studies say the age of horseshoe crabs is 450 million years. The creature has lived on earth without undergoing any morphological change.
- The blood of this crab is very important for the preparation of rapid diagnostic reagents. All injectable medicines are tested on them.
- Molecule has been developed from a reagent of horseshoe crab to help treat pre-eclampsia.
About Horseshoe crabs
- They are marine and brackish water arthropods
- Horseshoe crabs live primarily in and around shallow coastal waters on soft, sandy or muddy bottoms.
- They are generally found in the intertidal zone at spring high tides.
- It is protected under Schedule IV Wildlife Protection Act 1972
- Maximum density of Horseshoe crabs is found along the Odisha coast and Balasore used to be the largest spawning ground.