"Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are among the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The Sound supports diverse marine life, including most of the fish and shellfish we value as food ..."

– Connecticut Sea Grant

Conservation & Research

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Long Island Sound Fun Fact

Long Island Sound is 113 miles long, 21 miles wide (at its widest) and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. Its average depth is 63 feet – which is just a little deeper than the height of our IMAX screen! Can you fathom that?!

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Common Name: Horseshoe crab

Latin Name: Limulus polyphemus

Size/weight:  Up to 24 inches long and 12 inches wide;  3 or 4 pounds.

Range: Found from Maine to the Yucatan (Mexico).

Habitat: Estuaries to continental shelf

Diet:  Worms, bivalves and other bottom dwelling creatures.

Predators:  Migratory shorebirds, humans (fishing bait).

Description:  The horseshoe crab’s name is somewhat misleading. Although it is shaped like a horseshoe, it’s no crab.  The horseshoe crab is an arachnid, a class of arthropods that also includes scorpions, spiders, mites and ticks.  With two main eyes, two simple (light sensing only) eyes and a mouth on the bottom, the horseshoe crab is well suited to life on the bottom.  A brownish segmented shell offers protection and a pointed tail helps the animal right itself; it’s not used for attacking or even self-defense.

Conservation Note: After surviving on Earth for 300 million years, horseshoe crab numbers are declining. A local study, in which The Maritime Aquarium participates, is looking to find out the health and habits of the horseshoe crab population in Long Island Sound.

See them in the Depths of the Sound gallery (in the Touch Tank and nearby in their own Horseshoe Crabs exhibit) »