top of page
reTURN the Favor: Engaging People to Improve Spawning Habitat for Horseshoe Crabs in New Jersey


Project Purpose:

reTURN the Favor was initiated in 2013 as a state-sanctioned program to rescue horseshoe crabs stranded on New Jersey beaches. The program organizes nine groups and trains hundreds of volunteers to rescue stranded crabs and collect data on habitat conditions. We seek to increase the impact of the program by utilizing our results and our network of volunteers to remove debris and conduct small-scale restoration projects to improve habitat for spawning crabs.


Brief Description:

reTURN the Favor engages volunteers of all ages to rescue spawning crabs that become entrapped in debris, bulkheads, and jetties, or are at risk to predation, desiccation, or overheating when turned upside down on beaches by wave action. After three seasons and over 70,000 crabs rescued, the program is ready to develop our capacity to improve habitat conditions at beaches identified to have localized impingement hazards for crabs. In 2015, the program piloted a volunteer work project to amend an entrapment hazard for crabs at East Point Lighthouse that had measureable positive results. In 2016, we plan to undertake additional projects at beaches with identified hazards and fine-tune data collection on impingement hazards to be more scalable to small and large restoration projects.


Resource Values/Project Outputs:

(1) Reduce the number of stranded and impinged horseshoe crabs on 18 spawning beaches.

(2) Reduce impingement hazards for crabs at 3 spawning beaches.

(3) Increase knowledge of residents and visitors who participate in reTURN the Favor trainings, outreach programs,

walks and restoration projects.



$16,000 requested



Planning will begin in January 2016; Reports will be completed in September 2016.


Permit Status:

NJ Division of Marine Fisheries Scientific Collecting Permit, obtained annually.


List of Partners:

USFWS, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge; NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife; Manomet, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network; Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey; Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries; Friends of Cape May NWR; New Jersey Audubon; The Nature Conservancy; Rutgers University


What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution:

Requested funds will enable staff to continue program management, partner and volunteer organization, and to develop new small-scale habitat restoration projects. Funds will also support program supplies, printing, and travel expenses.


Point of Contact:

Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director, The Wetlands Institute, 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247. (609)-368-1211;


Files and Downloads:

bottom of page