BELMAR, NJ — Although not as well-known as the Delaware Bay or Raritan Bay for horseshoe crabs, the Shark River estuary is still a popular spawning spot for these marine arthropods during the spring. And Belmar’s L Street Beach is among several locations throughout the estuary where these crabs can be found at this time of the year.

In an effort to monitor population trends and movement of these crabs, the American Littoral Society continues its annual horseshoe crab tagging effort at the L Street Beach, located off Route 35 at the Belmar Marina.

Since the spawning season lasts just a few short weeks in May and June — and it is the only time horseshoe crabs come ashore — the effort will continue on these dates:

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  • Wednesday, June 7 – 6:15 p.m
  • Thursday, June 8 – 7 p.m.
  • Friday, June 9 – 7:30 p.m.

If tags remain after those sessions, the effort will continue to Thursday, June 22 at  6 p.m. and Friday, June 23 at 7 p.m.

Volunteers are welcome to participate in the tagging program, with data from the work provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The schedule for horseshoe crab tagging may change due to weather but participants are advised to be prepared to get wet, regardless of rain.

According to the Highlands-based American Littoral Society, the status of horseshoe crab populations along the Atlantic coast is poorly understood, but crabs continue to be harvested by fishermen and biomedical companies. Although horseshoe crab eggs may be abundant, a decline in the horseshoe crab population would severely impact migrating shorebird populations that depend on the eggs for survival.

The American Littoral Society is a member-supported, coastal conservation nonprofit group that promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm and engages communities to do the same through work in education, advocacy and conservation.

For more information on its L Street Beach tagging program, contact Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration director for the American Littoral Society, at 732-291-0055 or at alek@littoralsociety.org.