Literary Crab Fest
“‘Cute’ is probably not the first word you think of ” when encountering a horseshoe crab, concedes author Anthony D. Fredericks, but in Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor, the latest offering from local environmental publisher Ruka Press, his appreciation for this unsung marine hero is clear. These “living fossils” are not only interesting in and of themselves, but they also provide a number of useful products, including fertilizer, bait, and a substance in their blood called LAL. “Everything that goes into the human body,” he notes – from hip replacements to heart valves to IV drips – has been tested for bacterial contamination using LAL from horseshoe crabs.
A professor of education at York College of Pennsylvania, Fredericks’s experience as a science teacher shows in his straightforward prose and his lively digressions (vintage horror movies are a favorite), which make learning about these odd-looking crustaceans seem more like a salt-and-sand field trip than a dry classroom lecture. Where else would you learn that horseshoe crabs mate “with all the passion and ardor of a sailor home from a six-month deployment”?