Reading the title of a bill that came out of committee from the Delaware House yesterday, I had to ask myself if this was something that our representatives should be spending their time doing. Designating an official state marine animal is all very nice and good, but it doesn't do anything to address some of the budget problems that the state faces. It doesn't seem to address any social concerns, or conflict amongst citizens of the state. What does it do?
For one thing, it really doesn't add much of an expense to the state budget to make this designation. And, upon actually reading the bill itself, I realize that it can help to raise awareness of the importance of the horseshoe crab to Delawareans, and to our ecosystem, and the dangers that they face:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESWell, horseshoe crabs. You're being officially recognized. I'm not certain that you all care very much. But, maybe the sea grant annex of the University of Delaware in Lewes will get looking into why the population of horseshoe crabs is dwindling as much as it is. I suspect that agricultural runoff, and ocean dumping plays a role. Will our legislators followup with bills that aid and protect our official state marine animal?
141st GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE BILL NO. 448
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE OFFICIAL STATE MARINE ANIMAL.
WHEREAS, horseshoe crabs are 500 million year old creatures; and
WHEREAS, horseshoe crabs contain a compound, limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) that is used to detect bacterial poisons in certain medications, vaccines and medical devices; and
WHEREAS, chitin from the shell of the horseshoe crab is used to make bandages; and
WHEREAS, the horseshoe crab is used in vision studies because their complex eye structure is similar to the human eye; and
WHEREAS, the horseshoe crab is the principal food source for over a million shore birds; and
WHEREAS, these wonderful marine animals are becoming extremely scarce in Delaware, experiencing a drop in population from 1,200,000 in 1990 to 200,000 in 1995; and
WHEREAS, the Delaware Bay remains the home to more horseshoe crabs than any other place in the world; and
WHEREAS, Delaware is proud to be the home of such important marine animals.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 3, Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding a new §318 thereto to read as follows:
"§318. State marine animal.
The official State marine animal is the horseshoe crab."
Section 2. This Act shall take effect immediately upon enactment into law.
Recognizing the great importance and value of the horseshoe crab, this Act designates the horseshoe crab as Delaware's official marine animal.