Horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) are bled by biomedical companies for the extraction of Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL), a clotting agent used in the detection of endotoxins. In 1998, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission mandated that all biomedical companies collecting horseshoe crabs for the production of LAL study the horseshoe crab mortality rates resulting from the company's blood extraction process. BioWhittaker, a Cambrex Company is one of the largest producers of LAL in the world. During the summer of 1999, bled and unbled horseshoe crabs were transported from BioWhittaker's bleeding facility in Chincoteague, Virginia to the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center's aquaculture facility in Hampton, Virginia. At the aquaculture facility, they were kept in a tank and their survival was monitored for a period of two weeks. Mortality for bled crabs was 15%, while mortality for unbled crabs was 0%. Because of the importance of horseshoe crabs to a wide variety of interests, proper management requires monitoring and consideration of mortality effects on the population.
Walls, Elizabeth A. and Berkson, Jim
"Effects of Blood Extraction on the Mortality of the Horseshoe Crab, Limulus polyphemus,"
Virginia Journal of Science: Vol. 51
, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.odu.edu/vjs/vol51/iss3/4