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Hainan Province Health Experts Issue Warning About Rising COVID-19...

According to Jin Yuming, the Chief Health Emergency Expert at the Hainan Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of COVID-19 infections and the rate of positive test results among fever patients have both significantly increased.

Understanding the risk of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)...

With the recent rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in Hainan, parents need to be aware of this lesser-known respiratory illness. In this post, we'll explore the key facts about RSV and how it differs from influenza and COVID-19.

Super Typhoon “Mawar” Strongest Storm in 60 Years Expected...

Super Typhoon Mawar is barrelling toward Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands and the largest island in Micronesia as the strongest storm in more than 60 years.

Upcoming Holidays in Hainan for Everyone to Look Forward...

We have passed the halfway mark in May here in Hainan Island, and if you’re anything like me, you’re already glancing at your calendar, eagerly anticipating the next holiday. Thankfully we have upcoming holidays in the months of June and July so, here's what you need to know:

The Chinese horseshoe crab – an endangered blue-blooded “living fossil”

On December 16 the Hainan Danzhou Maritime Police Bureau seized a suspect for harming precious and endangered wild animals. The animal in question was the Chinese horseshoe crab “tachypleus tridentatus”, a nationally protected animal in China.

The two live Chinese horseshoe crabs were seized from the suspect.

The maritime police officers and local department personnel released the crabs into nearby waters.

Endangered species

In March 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Chinese horseshoe crab (also known as the tri-spine horseshoe crab) as endangered.

Horseshoe crabs are already legally protected in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, India and specific regions of Japan. On Feb. 5, 2021, China included the tri-spine horseshoe crab and mangrove horseshoe crab among more than 500 species newly protected under its National Key Protected Wildlife List.

Protection classes in China

China uses a 2 level class system for indicating an animal’s protection status.

It is similar to other lists such as the IUCN list which is more commonly known worldwide.

Chinese horseshoe crabs are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Redlist

Class I designates some of the most vulnerable and critically endangered species in China, such as the Hainan Gibbon and Giant Panda.

In China, class II of the protect species list covers animals such as the red panda, brown bear and red deer.

Class I protection prohibits hunting, killing, smuggling or trading the protected animals with jail sentences up to 10 years for those caught.

Not actually a crab

Despite their misleading name, horseshoe crabs do not share any close relatives with crabs. They share more genetics with spiders than they do with crabs. Researchers place them in the subphylum Chelicerata, along with spiders, scorpions, sea spiders and extinct trilobites.

Like the other species, females grow larger than males. The largest females of the tridentatus horseshoe crab can be as much as 79.5 cm (31.3 in) long, including their tail.

Illustration by Peppermint Narwhale

Habitat & diet of horseshoe crabs

Horseshoe crabs geographical range extend to Brunei Darussalam, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

They are found in coastal and brackish waters.

Horseshoe crabs prefer soft substrates like sand and mud. They generally occupy mangroves, lagoons, sandy beaches, seagrass beds, intertidal zones, estuaries and other coastal habitats.

Like other species of horseshoe crabs, they are omnivores and feed on molluscs, worms, other benthic invertebrates and algae.

Mangroves are a popular habitat for Chinese horseshoe crabs

Horseshoe crabs are under threat

The 450 – million year old horseshoe crabs that predate dinosaurs are now endangered and are mostly under threat from factors such as habitat loss and overharvesting.

Biomedical harvesting

In the 1950s, US scientists discovered that the blue blood of the horseshoe crab clots when it comes into contact with bacterial endotoxins. This led to the development of limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), a processed extract of the blood used to test for bacterial contaminants during the manufacture of anything that might enter the human body, from surgical equipment to vaccinations.

Demand for LAL and the lack of better alternatives make it one of the most expensive liquids in the world, with an oft-cited price tag of US $60,000 per gallon (4.55 litres).

To collect the blood of horseshoe crabs, pharmaceutical factories capture them, extract their blood and then release them back to nature. It is estimated that as many as 30 percent die after being bled, according to a National Geographic report quoting a 2010 study on the industry in the US.

Blood harvesting for pharmaceutical purposes


Gravid females are the target of capture throughout its range by artisanal fisheries as a food source in the Philippines, Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia.

The Bajau Laut, nomadic sea-farers along the south east coast of Sabah consume horseshoe crabs as a component of their diets.

They are specialist marine hunter-gatherers who make a living from freediving and represent one of the most widely dispersed Indigenous groups in Southeast Asia.

Horseshoe crab and noodle dish

They comprise a total population of approximately 1.1 million, with around 200,000 living in the islands of eastern Indonesia, 347,000 in Sabah, Malaysia and 564,000 in the Philippines. Whilst such artisanal fisheries are low technology in nature, the impact of targeting gravid females can be high and have considerable negative impact, particularly when small or already depleted populations are involved.

Horseshoe crab habitat loss through reclamation

Reclamation and related activities pose a considerable threat to horseshoe crab populations, through destruction or degradation of all lifes stage habitats.

Land reclamation of spawning habitats and nursery grounds, houses built along spawning beaches, mangrove loss and degradation and a high utilization rate of spawning areas and nursery grounds for coastal construction are all common threats.

Sand and gravel extraction

Sand and gravel extraction

Sand or gravel extraction can not only have a biological impact, leading to a change in benthic communities, it can also change a stable area of seabed into an area of erosion and if undertaken where currents are not strong, this can lead to the preferential erosion and deposition of fine sediments from surrounding areas through a winnowing effect, to replace the sometimes coarser sediment that has been extracted, which has a detrimental affect on their natural habitat.

Related article: Haikou Wetland Protection Project wins Provincial Science and Technology Award

Comment or complaint

If you would like to make a comment, compliment or complaint about any aspect of living or working in Hainan Island, we’d love to hear from you. We pass all communications on to the relevant services. Please keep it polite and to the point.


From Landfill to Eco Park: Yanchunling Restoration Project Unveils Design Plans

The "plan" for Yanchunling Ecological Park includes three design schemes, each with detailed introductions to the design concepts, investment estimates, and pros and cons. The public is encouraged to provide feedback on the park's design concept, functional layout, traffic organization, plant configuration, architectural style, urban furniture, and signage system.

The Valeriepieris Circle: A Geographical Phenomenon that Contains Half of the World’s Population

The Valeriepieris circle is a fascinating geographical phenomenon. This circular region, centred on the South China Sea, covers an area of approximately 4,000 kilometres in radius, which is roughly 6.7% of the Earth's total surface area and is home to more than half of the world's population.

Endangered Animal Statistics – An Alarming Situation

Why it is so important to be aware of what’s happening with endangered species. When we understand more about endangered or threatened species, we can be advocates for these animals and funnel conservation efforts into the most effective places.

Critically endangered yellow-breasted bunting spotted in Dongzhai Port, Haikou

Since 2004, the yellow-breasted bunting has been gradually upgraded to Critically Endangered due to rapid drops in population sizes

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Hainan Province Emerges as a Leading Hub for Early Childhood Development Education and Care

A relentless pursuit for excellence has propelled Hainan Province to the forefront of early childhood education and care. Through transformative initiatives, Hainan is charting a course to become a leading province in delivering comprehensive and high-quality education and care to its youngest citizens.

Hainan Province Commits to Launch Construction of Zhanhai High-Speed Railway Project this Year

According to recent reports, Hainan Province is pushing forward with the ambitious Zhanhai High-Speed Railway Project. The province is actively coordinating and mobilizing resources to ensure the project breaks ground this year.

Connecting Cultures: Embark on an Adventure with New Direct Flights from Haikou to Apia, Samoa

An air route linking Haikou and Apia, the capital of Samoa, was launched on Sunday, marking the start of a regular direct flight between the two countries. The flight, operated by Hainan Airlines, will depart Haikou every Saturday and take around 9 hours and 20 minutes.

Hainan Province Health Experts Issue Warning About Rising COVID-19 Cases

According to Jin Yuming, the Chief Health Emergency Expert at the Hainan Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of COVID-19 infections and the rate of positive test results among fever patients have both significantly increased.

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Spring Festival in China and local customs in Hainan

Spring Festival is one the largest holidays of the year in China. Find out more about traditional celebrations over the 2023 new year and the spring festival.

Have you tried Hainan Fish Tea?

Hainan Fish Tea is a popular snack with the Li and Miao minorities of Hainan Island.

New air routes coming to Hainan for 2022

A total of 10 new and optimized routes have been opened in Hainan with the number of domestic routes reaching 28.

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