Favorite Places in Maine: Horseshoe crabs of Bagaduce River

By Karen Francoeur, Special to the BDN
Posted May 18, 2011, at 11:14 a.m.

Kayaking into the reversing waterways of the upper Bagaduce in Sedgwick is an annual ritual that coincides with the horseshoe crab mating season. Near the Bagaduce Falls in Sedgwick, these amazing creatures that have been around since the dinosaurs converge, waiting for ideal conditions.

The females travel over 50 miles from the outer ocean to inner estuarine waters carrying males clinging to their backs with their clublike claws designed specifically for this purpose. The females lay their eggs precisely at the highest tide of the month, giving them several weeks to mature. Then, synchronized perfectly, the next highest tide will wash all the new little crab larvae into the water to grow and develop. Each year the event happens either in late May, June or even July, depending the warmth of the water.

A trip into the upper Bagaduce for a sea kayaker involves careful timing, too. The tide there can lag two hours behind Castine.  It’s best to go in near the high tide so that you can easily go out with the ebbing tide. The best place to see the horseshoe crabs is along the edges of the shoreline at high tide. Aside from the tidal influence, the water in the upper Bagaduce is generally calm.  The rich ecosystem provides an incredible opportunity to see a variety of sea birds, eagles, seals and even fish eggs clinging to the rich eel grass beds.  A not-to-miss early summer paddle!

Getting there: Take Route 175 south in Penobscot to Bridge Road. Launch just after crossing the bridge on the left, where there is a small public boat launch. Castine Kayak offers kayak ecotours in the upper Bagaduce during the horseshoe crab mating season. Check www.castinekayak.com for more information.

Karen Francoeur of Orono is a Master Maine Sea Kayak and Recreation Guide and owner of  Castine Kayak  Adventures. She can be reached at Castinekayak@gmail.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/05/18/outdoors/favorite-places-in-maine-horseshoe-crabs-of-bagaduce-river/ printed on September 20, 2014