Deborah Cramer lives in Gloucester, and she's author of a book called "The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab and an Epic Journey."
The bird is the red knot, a small shorebird that weighs less than a coffee cup. The ancient crab is the horseshoe crab, a creature that's lived basically unchanged on this earth for 450 million years. The two animals are intimately connected, and human beings are interfering with that connection.
Each year, the little red knot takes wing on an astonishing migration — an almost 20,000 mile round trip journey from the southern tip of Argentina, north to the Arctic, then back.
Deborah Cramer followed the hardy little red knot from Argentina to the Arctic. Flying across continents and through blizzards, you can imagine how tough their journey is. Deborah Cramer says that's why, about three-quarters of the way into their northerly migration, the red knots make a very important stop: Delaware Bay.
And they time it perfectly. Once a year, in late spring when the water warms, at high tide during the full and new moons, hundreds of thousands of ancient horseshoe crabs crawl ashore to lay their eggs.
In an astonishing act of synchronicity that's been going on for thousands of years, this is when the red knots arrive. To eat the eggs, fatten up and power north to the Arctic.
The delicate balance is at risk, because of — you guessed it — us. Human interference.
Deborah Cramer will be speaking about her book on September 19 at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. This conversation originally aired April 24, 2015.
Deborah Cramer, Gloucester-based author of "The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab and an Epic Journey."
- "Shorebirds aren’t as easy to spot as the larger, showier wading birds that spend much of the summer here."
This segment aired on August 24, 2015.