Home Local News Horseshoe crabs wash up dead in Ocean City, Md., in spawning disaster

Horseshoe crabs wash up dead in Ocean City, Md., in spawning disaster

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OCEAN CITY, Md.— It may have been the smell he noticed first.

Jimmy Charles, a country artist living in Nashville, had been looking forward to getting back to his roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this week. Among his favorite moments, before prepping for a benefit concert in Ocean City, is the chance to walk out on the deck and soak in ocean air he misses in Tennessee. 

It didn’t play out that way Monday. 

“I look out the window into the canal, and it’s just a graveyard of floating, dead, stinky horseshoe crabs,” Charles said over the phone Thursday. “And I’m like, what the heck happened?”

The father and Worcester County native saw hundreds of dead horseshoe crabs filling the canal near his family’s residence, their dark-gray backs already dry in the morning sun.

The number would grow to an estimated thousand by the end of the week. 

Jimmy Charles, country artist and Worcester County native, discovered a massive group of dead horseshoe crabs outside a family home in Ocean City, Maryland, on June 28, 2021. The large die-off, or horseshoe crab kill, is likely the result of one "perfect storm" in a stressful spawning season for the arthropods, as well as pockets of low dissolved oxygen levels in areas like this dead-end canal.

The small bodies bobbed throughout the green canal surface, gathered between boats at the either edge and floated motionless as far as he could see. From further inspection, Charles was certain the arthropods weren’t molting but simply being washed in from a death in the bay. 

“I literally have hundreds of horseshoe crabs just building up,” he said, still seeing more outside the home. “You see a couple big horseshoe crabs every once a while here and there, maybe a couple collect in the corner. But this was hundreds, literally hundreds — so it was shocking.”

Sandi Smith shed some light on the situation. 

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Source: GANNETT Syndication Service