Saturday, June 6, 2009

In Search of Horseshoe Crabs

In May and June, at the evening high tide during the full moon, horseshoe crabs gather to spawn.

Today we kayaked during the daytime high tide, hoping to see lots of horseshoe crabs.

Farmland in Stratham

Just like last time, we launched at Chapman's Landing in Stratham, NH. The morning was cloudy, but warm.

For tide charts, the Squamscott River Railroad bridge tide chart is most accurate. The bridge is about 1 mile toward the Great Bay from Chapman's Landing.

Great Bay is amazingly calm today

After we kayaked down the Squamscott River and poked our noses into Great Bay, it was extremely calm. Often Great Bay has a lot of chop and whitecaps from the wind whipping across it.

Edge of Salt Marsh at Sandy Point

This area is prime horseshoe crab spawning area. Several years ago, we launched our kayaks from the small boat launch at Sandy Point Discovery Center, and could barely walk in the water because there were so many horseshoe crabs.

Osprey Platform at Sandy Point (never occupied as of 2008)

Horseshoe crab at the edge of the marsh

After kayaking along the edge of the bay, seeing a few horseshoe crabs, and many nesting ducks, we kayaked across the bay to Nannie Island.

Nannie Island

Common terns have nested on Nannie Island in the past. Nannie Island also boasts the largest oyster bed in Great Bay, approximately 30 acres in size - but it is in need of restoration.

If we'd snorkeled, we might have seen juvenile flounder, pipefish in the eelgrass or green crabs in the shallows around Nannie Island. It was warm today....but not that warm!!

Just a note: Nannie Island has a lot of poison ivy. Be careful!!!!

We're a short distance from Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, visible across the water.

Cormorants on a small rock island

Horseshoe crab in the eel grass

It's a long way back to our launch!! We have to kayak basically all the way across this water. Good thing it's so calm today!

Leaving Nannie Island

We kayaked straight across the bay and back up the Squamscott River to Chapman's Landing.

I did try to snap a few bird pictures....but everything was coming out blurry.

We did see a changing of the guard at the osprey nest on the Squamscott River. One adult osprey flew to the nest. The adult on the nest flew off. That probably means that the adults are taking turns incubating eggs in that nest.

Once the young hatch, there will be a lot more visible osprey activity at the nest.

At the end of the day, my GPS read 9.58 miles. My arms were super tired. That's a long paddle for me - especially for my first week of paddling season!!

(We did kayak an extra mile at the beginning of the day when we arrived at the launch early and took a few pictures. Today maybe I shouldn't have gone the extra mile!)


Delighted Hands said...

Looks like an incredible day-we see horseshoe crabs at our beach here in FL, too! Amazing creatues, aren't they?!

Leigh said...

I love being on the water when it's calm like that. So peaceful. I've never seen horseshoe crabs up close and personal. Great shots.

Jennifer said...

Still jealous - but glad you are getting out there strengthening those arms! Wonderful pictures!

Life Looms Large said...

Now that my arms are strong enough to blog again.....

It was a really fun trip, and I'm glad you guys could follow along in pictures!!