Horseshoe crab tagging program is useful and fun

I found a second fireplace made with stone from fallen Cape Henlopen Lighthouse
December 29, 2023

Story Location:
3R’s Beach
Bethany Beach, DE 19930
United States

One of the benefits of covering an area with beaches is that every now and then, when I’ve got a few moments in between assignments, I get to walk on one and get paid for it (don’t tell Gazette owner Chris Rausch). I enjoy getting out there because I never know what I’m going to find – most of the time it’s nothing, but sometimes it’s sea glass or a buoy or something even more random.

That’s what happened the other day while I was down at 3R’s Beach just south of the Indian River Inlet. I came across a horseshoe crab tag lying face down on top of the sand that had, presumably, been attached to one at some point in the not-too-distant past.

The tag is part of the Horseshoe Crab Cooperative Tagging Program, which began in May 1999. I recognized the small, white disc as a crab tag immediately because it’s the second I’ve found. A few years ago, after a winter storm, the family and I went out to The Point in Cape Henlopen State Park where we found one that was still attached to the crab.

The tag has a website on it – – and a tag number that scientists and biologists are using to collect data that will be used to inform management decisions about harvest rates.

“Coast-wide management of horseshoe crabs is essential to maintain healthy populations to benefit shorebirds, the biomedical industry and the commercial fishing industry,” says the description of the program.

The website also lists Meghan Walker, a fish biologist based out of Annapolis, Md., as the person who is overseeing the program. I reached out to her, and she gave some basic information on the program.

There has been a total of 414,071 tags released, with 52,885 unique crab recaptures, said Walker. The total number of recaptures is 70,607, but that includes multiple reports of the same crab seen on a beach, she said.

What’s fun about the program, and something my kids still enjoy, is that a person receives a small pewter pin of a horseshoe crab and the history of that crab if they participate in the ongoing survey. All someone needs to do is provide a mailing address. I’m looking forward to getting mine.

Another fireplace from Cape Lighthouse stones

I recently wrote a story about the King Charles Rail Line that Rupert and Martha Smith had installed on their lawn in Rehoboth Beach. That was one of those come-across-it-type stories. I was driving around town after a meeting and came across Rupert turning the display on for the evening. I introduced myself. He recognized my name immediately and invited me inside to show me some of the other train-related items in the house.

When we got into the living room area, he pointed to the fireplace and said it’s made out of stones from the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, “just like the ones that the Reed boys have out there on the highway.

Rupert was referring to the old Sandy Brae property off Coastal Highway, near Bob Evans, that’s in the process of being demolished. The stone exterior facade and the two fireplaces inside are also from the lighthouse.

I told him I was the one who had been writing those stories, so I was pretty familiar with what was going on. Rupert then proceeded to show me a three-ring binder with printouts with bits of history related to the house. The Reed property doesn’t really have anything to do with his Rehoboth house, but the fireplace does share the same origins, so he had been saving those stories.

I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. I was really just driving around town waiting for my family to show up for my daughter’s birthday dinner. A couple of days later, I went back for an interview on the trains and asked Rupert if I could also take a picture of the fireplace.

“Sure,” he said. “Martha would love to have a picture of it in the paper while it’s done up all nice for Christmas.”

Well, here you go, Rupert. You can add this to the binder.

Joke of the Week

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know Beethoven’s biography all that well, so I had to look this submission up after Laurel sent it in. I appreciate the opportunity to learn something new, and if someone starts an email with, “I get a kick out of your unique perspectives and sense of humor,” that’s going to get the joke on the page. December, apparently, is also Beethoven’s birthday month, so it’s timely. As always, send jokes to

Q: Why could Ludwig van Beethoven never find his teacher?

A: Because he was always Haydn. 

  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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