Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Although the shed skin of the large bronze horseshoe crab is often found on Florida beaches, this animal lives its life in the shallow water nearby, coming to the water's edge only to breed. Most breeding is in spring during the high tides of the new and full moons. At these times, males and females find one another and the much smaller males literally latch on to their chosen mate. Males have special hook-like claws that grasp the female's shell. The female swims to the water's edge with her male or males in toe, digs a hole in the wet sand, and lays her eggs. The male then releases sperm over the eggs and the horseshoe crabs leave, allowing wave action to bury the pale-green eggs. While the eggs are only about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter, each female will lay five to seven clusters of 2,000- 4,000 eggs each during each breeding cycle and as many as 90,000 eggs each year. As the fertilized eggs develop, the tiny larvae inside undergoes four molts within as little as two weeks before the eggs hatch and the young make their way into the muck at the bottom to feed and grow.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.