16 June 2011 Can’t Live Without ‘Em: Shorebirds Posted by: John Motsinger | 1 comment | Share: If red knots go the way of the dodo, there’s a lot more at stake than just losing yet another one of nature’s treasures. With the imperiled shorebird species in serious trouble, local communities up and down the East Coast also stand to lose millions of dollars in revenue from avid birders and casual wildlife tourists alike. Each spring, thousands of visitors flock to New Jersey’s Delaware Bay to catch a glimpse of numerous shorebirds, including red knots, which swarm onto beach heads in search of eggs deposited by horseshoe crabs. In total, nearly half a million birders pass through the bay area each year, spending between $6 and $10 million on their trips, with an economic multiplier of $12 to $20 million once the money filters through local communities. (Read this full report on bay area ecotourism, prepared for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife in 2000). But all those dollars could quickly disappear along with the dwindling populations of shorebirds. Fellow Defenders blogger Caitlin Leutwiler recently reported that populations of migrating red knots recorded in southern Chile declined by 5,000, putting the overall population below 25,000. Losing one-fifth of the entire population in a single year is a huge concern, especially since climate change continues to wreak havoc on the red knots’ food supply and extreme migration. Many shorebirds rely on the eggs of horseshoe crabs as an essential source of protein in order to complete their long migratory journeys. But overfishing for bait and the biomedical industry have sent the population of horseshoe crabs into a tailspin from which they’ve yet to recover. With such a reduced population, ocean acidification and the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms brought on by climate change could deal the species a final blow. The entire ecosystem of horseshoe crabs, shorebirds and other coastal and marine species is at risk unless action is taken to protect them. Red knots are quickly becoming another proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for the snowballing effects of climate change. With one of the longest migrations in the entire world, from the Canadian Arctic to as far as the tip of South America, the loss of red knots will literally be felt throughout ecosystems halfway around the world. That includes the hundreds of business owners and wildlife enthusiasts that benefit from a booming ecotourism industry around the Delaware Bay. Learn more: See how a listing under the Endangered Species Act could save the red knot. Get more background on red knots and see how Defenders is working to save them. PausePlayPlayPrev|Next Red knots migrate all the way from the Canadian Arctic to the tip of South America. A closeup of Mispillion red knots on the beach A platoon of red knots take to the sky. One Response to “Can’t Live Without ‘Em: Shorebirds” Andrew Harper June 16th, 2011 This is an amazing story of wildlife migration and how a species relies on the Horseshoe Crab for survival. I was honored to see these scientists study these birds. We need to protect these birds now by putting a moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs until the population bounces back. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Helicopter gunning kills 23 wolves in Idaho; Urge Secretary Jewell to abandon gray wolf delisting proposal — Call your representative by March 14; Washington wildlife agency urged to end support for abolishing federal wolf protections; The latest on Governor Otter’s wolf control board. Two Too Many Development Projects in the Ivanpah Valley While these projects most definitely directly impact a species that has been identified as threatened and is dependent on the habitat where they would be built, Silver State South and Stateline’s approval is most troubling for a bigger reason. You see, this isn’t just an issue for the Ivanpah Valley. Developers and agencies need to be conscious of how and where they plan energy projects all across the country. They need to look at renewable energy planning with a landscape-wide lens, understanding that building in the right places and making an effort to minimize environmental impacts from the start are essential. California’s Rim Fire: Opportunities Rise from the Ashes After California’s devastating Rim Fire, will officials take the opportunity to give nature a chance to fully recover?