This month, many of us will be traveling to historic spots along the Delaware Bay in New Jersey and
Delaware. We will be there to witness the epic journey of the Red Knot as it comes to feed and rest along the Delaware Bay shore after a migratory flight of thousands of miles.
Deborah Cramer chronicled the importance of the Delaware Bay for the Red Knot in her book, The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, and An Epic Journey. She cites that up to 80% of the total population of Red Knots stop on the Delaware Bay shores with their arrival synchronized with the egg laying cycle of the Horseshoe Crab. This closely choreographed dance is threatened by climate change. Kramer cites that spring high tides in May already are impeding the spawning of the Horseshoe Crab.
Delaware planners anticipate that a three-foot sea level rise may adversely affect over 97% of Delaware’s tidal wetlands. The Red Knot has faced innumerable threats to survive as a species. Much has been done to save beaches, restore habitat and protect the Horseshoe Crab so critical to its survival. Climate change may be the final threat to the Red Knot as a species to which we marvel every May. This spectacle alerts us that it is time to act. Let’s address the challenge – and hope it is not too late for this marvelous bird.