One of the most expensive resources in the world is the blood of the horse shoe crab.
It cost $60,000 a galloon.Why is it so expensive? And who is buying this stuff? The average Lifespan of a horse shoe crab is 20-40 years.
The blue color comes from copper in the blood. But that is not the most interesting feature.The blood contains a clotting agent. It’s use to make a concoction Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL).
Before LAL scientist had no way of knowing wether a vaccine or tool is contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
Scientist would inject vaccines would inject vaccines to huge numbers of rabbits and wait for the symptoms to show up.
When LAL was approved fro use in 1970 it change everything. Drop a small amount into a medical device and the LAL will incase any gram negative bacteria. Although it can’t kill the bacteria it provides an alarm of what would become a lethal infection.
The industry catches around 600,000 horse shoe crabs. The crabs are drained 30 percent of their blood and up to 30 percent of the crab don’t live through the process.
The survivors are return to the water. No one really knows how well or if the crabs recover.
In 2016 the International Union for the conservation of nature identified that horse shoe crabs are already vulnerable species, jut one step higher than endangered. The population will keep falling up to 35 percent for the next 40 years.
LAL Laboratory claims that the return crabs eventually recover. New evidence says that its not always the case.
Bled crab become disoriented after return and weak for a period of time. Females will have trouble spawning. If the crabs survive the first two week after returning to their natural habitat they will mostly survive.
It’s getting through the weeks is the issue. Scientist are trying to find a synthetic alternative to help reduced the strain on the horse shoe crab population. So far, LAL is still required by the FDA for this type of testing.
If these animals really aren’t recovering on the rate the companies thought. We might ran crabs to bleed.
If that happens, our lives and lives of those testing rabbits might be at risk.