Did you get the flu shot? Thank a horseshoe crab

>>Hi. Hi friend.
He’s like, “What are you doing?” “Please put me down!”>>Here’s a horseshoe crab
a creature that’s been around for 400 million years. And here’s Rachel, the scientist
who’s trying to figure out a way to raise them.>>If you can see that hole
that’s opening up there, That’s her mouth
and it’s surrounded by these two brush-like bristles
and they don’t have teeth, so what they do is they grab
onto the food, they walk with it, they grind their food, and they ingest it.>>It’s like a little eating
orifice there.>>So this is CAARE.>>It’s a backyard urban
off farm in the heart of Durham North Carolina.>>Ca you explain how
horseshoe crabs and urban farming come together?>>Kind of a perfectly animal
to integrate into the system because it could potentially be
a high profit margin animal as well as an animal that
we should be thinking about conserving. Horseshoe crabs are big money
to the biomedical industry. Every time you get a flu shot you should probably thank
a horseshoe crab. Basically any medical device or
drug that goes into your body, think vaccines, pacemakers,
hip replacements has been tested using the blood
of horseshoe crabs. Yes that’s horseshoe
crab blood. The copper in their blood
gives it that bright blue color. But that isn’t the only thing
that special about it. Horseshoe crab blood clots
almost immediately when it’s exposed
to dangerous bacteria or fungi. It’s part of the reason
horseshoe crabs have outlasted the dinosaurs. But it’s also the reason
the biomedical industry depends on horseshoe crabs to make sure their products
won’t cause infections.>>Fishing participants will go
out collect the crabs and put them in a boat. They’ll transport it in a truck
back to the facility and they will then bend the crab
in such a way that we have access
to that membrane to do the bleeding. A horseshoe crab that’s maybe twice the size
of this one to the industry is
worth about $1800.>>Wow!>>They don’t even get a
cookie or orange juice after they give
blood like we do. So you know what happens
to these creatures once they’re released
back in the wild, nobody knows. They’re not tagged. You become
so attached these animals. I don’t know what it is, but how can you become attached to
a creature that looks like that? [laughing]>>You just have a soft heart! Bleeding horseshoe crabs
doesn’t kill them and companies only take 30 percent
of the crabs blood. In exchange millions of lives are saved from diseases
like sepsis.>>But according to research
from Kepley Biosystems in some areas of the U.S.,
the combination of bleeding overharvesting
and habitat destruction has caused a 95 percent decline
of spawning horseshoe crabs. So horseshoe crabs
are stressed out.>>They’re really stressed out. We want to offer a new way to collect horseshoe crabs by
your not pulling them from the wild, but you are
actually maintaining them in a managed closed system –
a trackable one so we know which horseshoe
crab was being bled>>Rachel says it’s difficult to
keep horseshoe crabs alive longer than six months and she thinks
it’s because of their diet.>>So she and her team
from Kepley Biosystems are experimenting
with different types of food.>>So yeah, they’re receiving
a very well balanced diet to keep them healthy and happy.>>The team’s goal
is to teach farmers how to raise horseshoe crabs. So instead of pulling crabs
out of the wild, the biomedical industry
can rely on farmers instead.>>Is it lunchtime?>>Tail’s wagging. He’s happy.
[laughing]>>Is that what that means?>>We can potentially set up contract farming to integrate
them into their farming system because God knows farmers need
to have more profitable revenue. You want some…
You hungry? Hmm? You just kinda flip him over
that way, hold him from that side so the hinge doesn’t
basically pinch you.>>But for now we expressed
our gratitude to the humble horseshoe crab
by giving him some treats. Yes, it’s like literally the
Sarlacc Pit from Star Wars Ok buddy chow.

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