When and Where to See Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds

Laura ChamberlinUncategorized

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Timing is everything with May on the Bay.

When and where should I go to see red knots and horseshoe crabs? It’s one of our most common questions. We can never guarantee anything with wildlife, but we can help ensure visitors don’t experience an empty beach and are able to witness this phenomenon themselves. We also have tips for making sure your visit is fun, while respectful of both residents and wildlife.

Peak Horseshoe Crab Spawning

Timing is key for viewing horseshoe crab spawning. Horseshoe crabs spawn on the high tides, try to arrive within an hour of high tide. They will spawn night and day, EVERYDAY in May and June, and even a little later into summer. But, the very best time to see horseshoe crabs spawning is on the high tides of the full and new moons, when the tides are at their highest.

Peak Shorebird Viewing

Shorebirds are in the Delaware Bay region year-round, found in many wetland habitats including beaches, salt marshes, and ponds. However, the peak period for the Arctic-bound migrating shorebirds who are gorging on horseshoe crab eggs is May 12-30, sunrise to sunset. Some birds will begin arriving as early as May 7th and leaving as late as June 7th. In most cases, ideal viewing is a high to falling tide, though some beaches are best at mid-low tide.

For a map of the best locations, check out our map.

Things to know:
  • Be respectful of community residents. Do not block driveways, enter private property, or make loud noises.
  • Expand your trip with other Bayshore experiences. For tips on where to stay, eat, and play go to www.discoverdelawarebay.org
  • If you encounter large flocks of shorebirds, let them move in their own time before you enter the area. In New Jersey, many beaches are closed for the migrating shorebirds from approximately May 7th to June 7th.
  • Join one of the sanctioned horseshoe crab programs to help the crabs while having a closer experience with their amazing spawning events.
  • Check the tides. Search on NOAA Tide Charts to find the tides from nearby tide stations.
  • For more information about the natural history of horseshoe crabs go towww.horseshoecrab.org
  • For more information about the natural history of the key migrating shorebirds go towww.conservewildlifenj.org


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