Catch and Release

The Enduring Yet Vulnerable Horseshoe Crab

224 pages

28 b/w figures and 1 video

January, 2018

ISBN: 9781479848478



Add to Cart Available: 12/1/2017

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Lisa Jean Moore is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. She is author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man’s Most Precious Fluid and co-author of Missing Bodies: The Politics of Visibility and Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee. She is also co-editor of the collection The Body Reader and, with Monica Casper, oversees the series Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the Twenty-First Century for NYU Press.

All books by Lisa Jean Moore

The unexpected and fascinating interspecies relationship between humans and horseshoe crabs.
Horseshoe crabs are considered both a prehistoric and indicator species. They have not changed in tens of millions of years and provide useful data to scientists who monitor the health of the environment. From the pharmaceutical industry to paleontologists to the fishing industry, the horseshoe crab has made vast, but largely unknown, contributions to human life and our shared ecosystem.  Catch and Release examines how these intersections steer the trajectory of both species’ lives, and futures. 
Based on interviews with conservationists, field biologists, ecologists, and paleontologists over three years of fieldwork on urban beaches, noted ethnographer Lisa Jean Moore shows how humans literally harvest the life out of the horseshoe crabs. We use them as markers for understanding geologic time, collect them for agricultural fertilizer, and eat them as delicacies, capture them as bait, then rescue them for conservation,  and categorize them as endangered.
The book details the biomedical bleeding of crabs; how they are caught, drained of 40% of their blood, and then released back into their habitat. The model of catch and release is essential.  Horseshoe crabs cannot be bred in captivity and can only survive in their own ecosystems. Moore shows how horseshoe crabs are used as an exploitable resource, and are now considered a “vulnerable” species.
An investigation of how humans approach animals that are essential for their survival, Catch and Release questions whether humans should have divine, moral, or ethical claims to any living being in their path. 


  • “This inspired account of our often surprising connections to crab worlds confirms Lisa Jean Moore's place as one of the most original and powerful sociologists writing today. Her beautifully illustrated book elegantly and poignantly interweaves rigorous observation with creative theoretical analysis, personal memoir, and political critique. A must-read about one of the most ancient creatures on our shores.”

    —Sarah Franklin, Author of Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship

  • Catch and Release is an incisive indictment of modern humanity's arrogance and ignorance and at the same time a celebration of a species, the horseshoe crabs, who despite their intelligence and power have refused to do to us what we have done to them.”

    —G.A. Bradshaw, Author of Carnivore Minds: Who These Fearsome Animals Really Are