In Petrie's (Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?, 2013, etc.) educational children's book, a horseshoe crab learns that an apparent fashion statement is actually necessary for survival.
As a young horseshoe crab wanders the seafloor, "flapping his gills" and "gliding with ease," he notices something peculiar—a fellow horseshoe crab who's a bit older, with bits of seaweed, barnacles, and other sea fauna encrusting her shell. The youngster is shocked that his female counterpart would choose to mar her shell this way—why not be light and free? Upon closer inspection, he sees that she has periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, and seaweed covering her sleek outer shell. Although the younger horseshoe crab is bewildered at the idea of weighing oneself down on purpose, he quickly learns why it's smart. As the sea retreats and the tide gets low, the female horseshoe crab buries herself in the sand, disguising her shell and avoiding the watchful eye of predatory birds. From the air, she just looks like a bunch of seaweed in the ocean. Without anything to hide behind, the younger horseshoe crab is quickly snatched into the sky by a sea gull, but the crustacean manages to fall from its grasp by twisting and turning. After this near-death experience, he understands the wisdom of collecting creatures to live on his carapace, and he's soon lumpy, bumpy, and, most importantly, safe. Petrie once served as an outreach educator for the New England Aquarium, and her knowledge of and passion for marine life is apparent throughout this colorful work. Readers don't need to have a deep interest in marine biology to love this book; it's so engrossing and engaging that the fact that it's also educational is just an added bonus. Children won't just learn about horseshoe crabs: after the story is over, the last pages offer a glossary of the sea creatures mentioned within, including limpets, Jonah crabs, and barnacles. Petrie's bright illustrations are also a delight. Overall, this work is sure to inspire further under-the-sea exploration at bedtime and beyond.
A fun marine adventure that's fit for everyone.
The Salem News
In her children's book, Petrie uses simple, bright images and a playful rhyming scheme to convey her message that horseshoe crabs have a greater purpose than their appearance may suggest. She's also hoping her readers will feel the same spark she felt 20 years ago.
"I love the little guys, and I think they're incredible," Petrie said. "And people would, too, if they spent some time with them." --(Muriel C. Hoffacker)
The Wakefield Daily Item
They hang out at the beach and are so scary looking you think they might bite. No, they're not men wearing Spandex.
These little creatures are actually horseshoe crabs and author Janice S. C. Petrie, who grew up in Montrose and raised her children in Greenwood, has written a book about them.
Written in rhyme, "The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab" is set in Duxbury at Powder Point Bridge and is for children ages three to nine. The book tells the story of horseshoe crabs and their undersea adventures. A glossary is included at the end of the book and teaches about limpets, barnacles and other underwater life forms and explains the individual parts of a horseshoe crab.
Petrie said that she learned details about the "sweet" horseshoe crabs while working for the New England Aquarium at the wooden Powder Point Bridge. She also worked for Seatales Publishing Company for 20 years where she learned about other forms of sea life.
"In writing the book, my hope was that the more familiar people become with the crabs, the more they'll be apt to want to protect them," she said. "It's amazing how many people know so little about these sea creatures."
Petrie, a Topsfield resident for the past 15 years, said that horseshoe crabs are an endangered species, and the entire population could be wiped out if measures are not taken to protect them. For instance, she said they are used as bait in the conch industry and to catch other seafood, and these practices could wipe out the entire population.
The horseshoe crabs, she said, are not royalty but they actually do have blue blood. This is because their blood has a copper base that appears blue when oxygen is present, whereas when human iron-based blood has oxygen present, it appears red.
This finding has led to the LAL test, which helps to expose bacterial contamination of injectable and intravenous drugs. LAL testing is also used to screen prosthetic devices such as heart valves and hip replacements for bacterial contamination.
To learn more about the horseshoe crab, Google You tube and type "The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab" on the search line. To view Petrie's Facebook page, type in the title of the book after going to the Facebook site.
Surprising facts about horseshoe crabs:
• A horseshoe crab's tail is not a weapon; in fact, it's fragile. Therefore, crabs should never be picked up by their tails.
• It takes a male crab nine years to reach reproductive maturity and female crabs 10 years.
• Loggerhead turtles and shore birds depend on horseshoe crabs and their eggs for food.
• If horseshoe crabs die out, these populations can be reduced and biomedical research would screech to a halt.
• Horseshoe crabs have aided eye research, and their shells are used in sutures that are absorbed by the body in dressings for wounds. --(Gail Lowe)