Paper $22.95 ISBN: 9781584655312 Published February 2006

Crab Wars

A Tale of Horseshoe Crabs, Bioterrorism, and Human Health

William Sargent

Crab Wars

William Sargent

Distributed for University Press of New England

208 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $22.95 ISBN: 9781584655312 Published February 2006
Surviving almost unmolested for 300 million years, the horseshoe crab is now the object of an intense legal and ethical struggle involving marine biologists, environmentalists, US government officials, biotechnologists, and international corporations. The source of this friction is the discovery 25 years ago that the blood of these ancient creatures serves as the basis for the most reliable test for the deadly and ubiquitous gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for life-threatening diseases like menengitis, typhoid, E. coli, Legionnaire’s Disease and toxic shock syndrome. Because every drug certified by the FDA must be tested using the horseshoe crab derivative known as Limulus lysate, a multimillion dollar industry has emerged involving the license to “bleed” horseshoe crabs and the rights to their breeding grounds. Since his youthful fascination with these ancient creatures, William Sargent has spent much of his life observing, studying, and collecting horseshoe crabs. As a result, he presents a thoroughly accessible insider’s guide to the discovery of the lysate test, the exploitation of the crabs at the hands of multinational pharmaceutical conglomerates, local fishing interests, and the legal and governmental wrangling over the creatures’ ultimate fate. In the end, the story of the horseshoe crab is a sobering reflection on the unintended consequences of scientific progress and the danger of self-regulated industries controlling a limited natural resource.
Contents
Preface • Acknowledgements • EARLY LESSONS • Introduction • A Day in the Life of a Hunter-Gatherer • Carl Shuster [July 14, 1953] • First Lessons [Boston Children’s Hospital, 1956] • At an Ancient Orgy [June 21, 1957] • COMMERCIALIZATION • The Conversation [Woods Hole, 1962] • Bleeding the Crab [1969-1974] • Crabs and Ponies [Chinoteague Island, June 22, 1972] • "Flugate" [1976] • Confessions of a Horse Crab Farmer [Cape Cod, 1982] • A Garden Party [Charleston, South Carolina, 1985] • ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS • Fishing for Bait: The Conch and the Eel Fisheries [Delaware Bay, 1990-2000] • A Day at the Beach: Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs [Reed’s Beach, New Jersey, May 29, 1985] • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission [Washington, D.C., 1996-1999] • Jay Harrington vs. Bruce Babbitt [Pleasant Bay, 2000] • A Bizarre Incident [May 23, 2000] • The Decision [ John Joseph Moakley Federal Court House, Boston, Massachusetts, May 22, 2001] The Loophole [Falmouth, Massachusetts, June 2001] • Raw Lysate: A New Industry [Chincoteague, Virginia, July 30,2001] • Numbers, Numbers, Numbers [Delaware Bay, September 28, 2001] • Postscript [2005] • Index
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