Jessica Baniak, 2025


Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences (MEES)

The Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to over harvesting by the whelk and eel bait industry, biomedical industry, and habitat loss. Horseshoe crabs play an important ecological role and they contain blue blood which creates a product called LAL, limulus amebocyte lysate, used in the sterilization process for medical devices. Due to the decrease in the horseshoe crab population, there has been a shift of focus to the aquaculture industry for potential solutions. Horseshoe crabs have an average life span of 18-22 years and reach a sexual maturity at 10 years, thus making culturing to adulthood not economically feasible. My project focuses on juvenile horseshoe crab aquaculture that is applicable for reintroduction programs seen in countries like Japan, China, and Taiwan.

My research is to update/adapt aquaculture conditions for L. polyphemus with a focus on temperature and its impacts on feed consumption, growth, and mortality. Furthermore, I am partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on a program called “Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom” where we work with middle and high school public teachers to raise horseshoe crabs in their respective schools. This collaborative research effort includes working with all participants in the program to revitalize it following COVID by updating the enclosures, student participation, care factors, etc. for future success.

UMBC Mentor: Dr. J. Sook Chung
Partner Mentor: Stephanie Tuckfield (Maryland DNR)
Community Stakeholder: Susan Mako (Mount View Middle School)
Resume: Jessica Baniak_Resume_Current