Habitat mapping and conservation of horseshoe crabs in India

Siddhartha Pati

Tachypleus gigas is abundantly distributed along the eastern coast of Odisha, India. The presence of these horseshoe crabs in coastal zones indicates environmental health, as only optimal conditions are suitable for their survival, reproduction and development. Although these crabs are ecologically important, preliminary data indicate that their numbers have already declined significantly and that they are under threat. The local fishermen of Odisha are not fully aware of the biomedical importance (e.g. source of novel antimicrobial agents, pharmaceutical applications etc.) and its economic importance. Rates of horseshoe crab mortality are high due to bycatch in fishing gear. Additionally, the degradation of the crabs’ breeding grounds due to natural and anthropogenic activities has also resulted in mass depletion of the population along the Indian coast. Adequate and effective conservation measures to protect these valuable breeding beaches along the coast of Odisha is therefore important. This project aims to implement conservation measures to mitigate impacts on horseshoe crab populations along the coast of Odisha and focuses on raising conservation awareness among local stakeholders.