The time of year has come for creatures older than dinosaurs to congregate on the shores and mate.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking the public to be on the lookout for horseshoe crabs and report findings to the agency.
The best time to see the pairs, with the smaller male on top of the larger female, is during high tide within three days of the full or new moon, which will be March 12 and 27, respectively.
From 2002-16, 172 horseshoe crab spawning activity reports came from Manatee County shores, the eighth highest in the 34 coastal counties in Florida. In total, 3,765 reports have been sent in from across the state during that period.
According to FWC, numbers of horseshoe crabs, named for their horseshoe shape, have gone down in the past few decades from diminishing habitat and overfishing. Their shape has changed little over their 450 million-year existence, and only the Limulus polyphemus species exists in North America from Maine to Mexico. Horseshoe crab larvae emerge from nests several weeks after the eggs are laid, according to the FWC.
The FWC also suggests that if anyone finds a horseshoe crab stuck on its back to gently pick it up by both sides of its shell and place it back into the water.