"As recently as five years ago, this stretch of sand was covered with chirping shorebirds, which depended on Delaware Bay as a critical stopover in their arduous spring migration from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic. But these days, the beach is almost bare, with just a couple of dozen sanderlings and dunlins digging for the horseshoe crab eggs they need to fuel the trip.
Over the past two decades, the number of crabs has dwindled as they became attractive to commercial trawlers, who sell the prehistoric creatures as conch and eel bait and for their unique blue blood, which is used medically to detect pathogens.
The decrease in spawning crabs, in turn, has contributed to the collapse of bird populations such as that of the tiny rust-colored red knot, which has declined from 100,000 two decades ago to 13,315 last year.
The battle to reverse the trend began in 1998 and will intensify in the coming months."