Clouds covered the moon and a steady breeze turned into a brisk wind, but that didn't stop more than 50 people from heading into the night to witness a 250-million-year-old mating ritual in Rye.
Using flashlights to light their way from the visitor center at Marshlands Conservancy down to the tidal estuary, a crowd gathered to see horseshoe crabs, often referred to as "living fossils," journey into the shallows to mate. At 10:30 p.m. site naturalist Chris Mignone led the larger than expected group of people of all ages to witness the event.
Although the wind from the approaching storm made the water choppy and murky, the group quickly spotted several of the crabs--solitary males in search of females.
Mignone picked up one of the animals for everyone to inspect closely and as he explained their biology and how it has remained unchanged for millions of years, a pair of mating crabs was seen in the shallow water behind him.
"I won't pick them up--I think they'd rather be left alone," Mignone said, drawing chuckles from all the adults within earshot.