Ancient Alien Protectors Open Access
Downloadable ContentDownload PDF
Ancient Alien Protectors is an exhibition that tells the story of the wonders and benefits of horseshoe crabs. What are they and why should anyone care about them? Researching the topic revealed that more often than not an inhabitant of the Western Shore or any of the landlocked geographical locations in the United States has limited knowledge about horseshoe crabs. Their kind has inhabited our Earth for over 475 million years. They have outlasted over ninety-nine percent of all the species that ever swam or walked on the planet but are now in peril due to human activity. They have been harvested for farmers to make fertilizer for crops, chopped up as bait for fishermen, and captured and bled by biomedical companies. Their copper-based blue blood is used to produce a life-saving product that is hypersensitive to bacteria. The injectable drugs and medical devices that come in contact with our blood must be tested for the presence of toxins, horseshoe crabs have now become an invaluable commodity to modern medicine.Horseshoe crab eggs are a food source for many crustaceans and fishes. Their eggs are an integral part of the diet of many shorebirds, allowing them to refuel and gain weight before continuing their journey northward to the Arctic. Disappearance of the horseshoe crab from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean would be a critical blow to the life-sustaining connection between members of local ecosystems.The goal of this research is to create an exhibition that sparks an awareness about how we are an intrinsic part of the natural world. The exhibition is designed so that visitors will have an opportunity to enter a museum located in the Delaware Bay region, the natural setting where the largest population of horseshoe crabs are born, grow to maturity, and reproduce. Visitors can immerse themselves in an environment that will stimulate their senses as well as their mind and leave inspired to engage in the conservation and protection of this resilient species. The proposed site will also house a research facility collocated with the museum to foster cooperation and knowledge sharing among scientists. A partnership between the conservation and medical communities would strengthen the commitment to finding better ways to strategically manage and preserve this precious living resource.