This weekend make sure you look up in the sky, and down in the sand!

Look up this weekend. That’s the Strawberry Moon--so named since it marks the time wild berries are ripe for picking. This will be the brightest, most full moon of the year so far, so you're in for a treat! The best time to see it will be Sunday evening, June 16th. This is the 6th full moon of the year and will be at its peak early morning on Monday, June 17th.

But this special full moon could also be called the Horseshoe Crab Moon. It’s spawning season for this critter and now is the only time of the year this crab graces our coastal rivers and bays.

Horseshoe crabs have been on Earth over 450 million years—think about that—they’ve seen dinosaurs come and go. They look fierce but are gentle creatures that cannot bite or sting you. During mating season, the light of the full moon tells the female Horseshoe Crab it’s time to come ashore to deposit pearl-sized, blue-green eggs (up to 20,000!) in the sand. Next, she goes for a swim, picks up a few males, and drags them over her eggs to fertilize them. Then it’s “every crab for themselves” to get back in the water. Four to 30 days later, a few eggs will hatch. Most become food for other animals including migratory shorebirds that depend on the protein-rich eggs to finish their migration.

If you happen to see a stranded Horseshoe Crab, especially one flipped over on its back, don’t be afraid to give it a hand. Gently flip it over and guide it back into the sea—they can’t hurt you and they’ll be forever grateful.

Horseshoe Crabs can be seen mating along the sandy beaches of Sandy Hook or Barnegat Bay and even Shark River. This Monday you can help tag Horseshoe Crabs along Shark River with the American Littoral Society and the Shark River Clean Up Coalition. Volunteers should meet at Memorial Park in Neptune City at 7:45pm. Training will be provided. Bring a flashlight, bug spray and expect to get wet!

For more info on our ocean and beach critters from NJ Sea Grant, CLICK HERE!

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