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610-779-8226; 800-543-3764; P.O. Box 149 Oley, PA 19547
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Bullfrog Films

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The Crabs, The Birds, The Bay
The Story of Delaware Bay's Great Annual Gathering

Migrating shorebirds feast on horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay.

A printer-friendly version of this page 19 minutes
Directed by Mitchell Smith and David Givens
Produced by Natural Art Films

Every spring nearly one million migrant shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) stop to feed on horseshoe crab eggs along the beaches of Delaware Bay. The birds have just completed an incredible nonstop flight from their wintering grounds in South America. For a species like the Red Knot, this may have been seven thousand miles. The birds stop to refuel for their next marathon leap. Their destination: nesting grounds on the high Arctic tundra yet another three thousand miles nonstop. The phenomenon is the second largest gathering of shorebirds in North America but is by far the most spectacular because of its concentration.

The catalyst for this incredible migratory stop is another amazing yet completely different creature, the horseshoe crab. The Delaware Bay hosts the largest population on earth. Every spring these 'living fossils' emerge onto the beaches to lay their eggs. Horseshoe crabs have been around longer than most other forms of life. In the 360 million years that they have roamed the oceans, almost no changes have occurred. Horseshoe crabs have been on earth so long that they predate the first dinosaurs by 100 million years.

The film provides an intimate yet bold look at this annual phenomenon. Viewers will see and learn about the life-cycle of the horseshoe crab, from nesting adults to peering into the pin-sized embryo within the eggs. A unique relationship exists between the migrant birds and the nesting horseshoe crabs. Though vastly different, together the crabs and the birds teach a universal lesson about the interrelationship of all species.

An on-camera foreword is provided by natural history author and Cape May Bird Observatory Director, Pete Dunne.

Grade Level: 5-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1997     Copyright Date: 1997
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-510-5     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-647-X

"Fascinating...A unique relationship exists between the nesting crabs and the migrant shorebirds. Together they teach a universal lesson about the relationship among all species..."
The Science Teacher

"For those who have not experienced the phenomenon...this film will put it on your 'To See' list...great for school aged kids and for inspiring mom and dad to take them to see the real thing. Highly recommended for schools and families..."
WIldlife Activist Magazine

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The Crabs, The Birds, The Bay

"Fascinating...A unique relationship exists between the nesting crabs and the migrant shorebirds." The Science Teacher

Study guide

Awards and Festivals
CINE Golden Eagle
OWAA SHOW CASE, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh

Bird Migration
Invertebrate Zoology
Life Science
Life Science
Marine Biology
Oceans and Coasts

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The Intertidal Zone
Ecology of the ecological zone between the tides.

... more Reviews

"Visually and musically...outstanding..."
Dawn Littleton, Bio-Medical Library, University of Minnesota, MC Journal

"Intimate photography of crabs, laughing gulls and sandpipers, descriptions of their life cycles and concerns about interference combine to effectively illustrate ecological principles."
Green Teacher

"Shot in a way that makes New Jersey's bay shore look like the stunningly exotic place that it really is."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

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