Her cape is a bright yellow vest with reflective tape. Instead of large ‘W’, she wears a t-shirt with a horseshoe crab. She finds the beaches that need her help and swoops in. She fights the elements- not rain, sun, piles of rubble, nor darkness can deter her. Her mission? To ensure that not a single crab is lost.
This superhero is Sandy Anderson. She got her start rescuing crabs last year while on vacation in Slaughter Beach in Delaware. On a rainy day, Sandy visited the DuPont Nature Center, watched the film, Crash: A Tale of Two Species, and was hooked. She spent the rest of that vacation rescuing crabs at Slaughter Beach. Upon returning home to Bridgeton, NJ, a friend told her about reTURN the Favor and the rest is history.
Meghan Wren, Founding Director of the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, coordinates four of the beaches that Sandy volunteers on and knows first-hand the extraordinary efforts of Sandy’s rescuing (currently at 29 walks and counting). “Her passion is contagious, in addition to saving thousands of crabs; she’s inspired and enlisted her friends, coworkers, neighbors and family to get engaged as well.” said Meghan Wren. She even recruits from her fellow volunteers at the local animal shelter. (Her work there is another amazing story for another day!)
It’s this passion to inspire others that really makes Sandy amazing. After most rescue walks she is on the reTURN the Favor facebook group sharing stories and photos, interacting with other volunteers, and supporting them in their efforts. This facebook group was actually her idea as she wanted a way to interact with all the other amazing volunteers to share stories, challenges, and information. Oh, and did we mention that she wrote and produced a beautiful song and music video about reTURN the Favor?
During the off-season Sandy brought the program to her friend and colleague Melissa Bonham, the Pittsgrove School District’s Stem Coordinator. With Sandy’s help, Bonham was able to connect teachers with classroom and field trip opportunities for their students. “What a great opportunity it has been. It is so rewarding to get students connected to the content they learn in class by providing hands-on, real-world applications.” said Bonham. “Sandy is not just about saving the animals herself. She is about educating the public and generating enthusiasm for being a voice for animals.”
“I do not think there is a greater teacher out there when it comes to leading by example and sharing her experiences with others about volunteering.” Bonham added.
Sandy’s greatest wish for horseshoe crab conservation: That everyone would respect horseshoe crabs and know how important they are, what they do for us and the environment. With Sandy’s help, reaching this goal will be easier.
Make no mistake; superheroes are not just for the comic books and movies. They are living amongst us— caring, taking action, and inspiring every day. This superhero can be found on the beaches of Cumberland County, New Jersey in May and June. Look for her cape.