cover of book

Life Along the Delaware Bay: Cape May, Gateway to a Million Shorebirds
by Lawrence Niles, Joanna Burger and Amanda Dey
photographs by Jan Van de Kam
Rutgers University Press, 2012
eISBN: 978-0-8135-5360-3 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-5246-0
Library of Congress Classification QL696.C48N56 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 598.330916346


The Delaware Bay is the second largest and most diverse bay on the East Coast. It has a rich cultural history, has played an important role in the region’s commerce and tourism, and has spectacular and vital natural resources. Birdwatchers gather along its shores to watch the spectacle of thousands of spawning horseshoe crabs, the dense flocks of migrant shorebirds, the fall hawk migration, and the huge migration of monarch butterflies.

 Life Along the Delaware Bay focuses on the area as an ecosystem, the horseshoe crab as a keystone species within that system, and the crucial role that the bay plays in the migratory ecology of shorebirds. An abundance of horseshoe crabs spawning on the Delaware Bay beaches results in an abundance of eggs brought to the surface, providing a source of high-quality food and bringing hundreds of thousands of shorebirds to the bay to forage in late May and early June. A dramatic decline in horseshoe crabs has resulted in a rapid and dramatic decline in birds, particularly the red knot. This decline has sounded an alarm throughout the world, prompting a host of biologists to converge on the bay each spring, to understand the biology and conservation of red knots and other shorebirds. 

Lawrence Niles, Joanna Burger, and Amanda Dey examine current efforts to protect the bay and identify new efforts that must take place to ensure it remains an intact ecological system. Over three hundred stunning color photographs and maps capture the beauty and majesty of this unique treasure—one that must be protected today and for generations to come.

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