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Delaware State Shell & Marine Animal

Delaware State Marine Invertebrates

Delaware’s state shell is the channeled whelk. However, the star of the show may be the official marine animal, the horseshoe crab. Horseshoe crabs aren’t true crabs. They’re actually very different.

Horseshoe crabs evolved nearly half a billion years ago. They are commonly described as living fossils.

In Delaware, moonlit nights in May and June are magical. On such nights, thousands of horseshoe crabs crawl ashore on Delaware Bay beaches at high tide to lay eggs. Horseshoe crabs were laying eggs on beaches long before there was a state of Delaware, of course. In fact, they were laying eggs long before the continent of North America existed.

The horseshoe crab season coincides with a huge shorebird migration. Thousands of red knots are among the birds that feed on horseshoe crab eggs.

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