A Beautiful Real Life Twist on the Famous Starfish Rescue Story


So many of us love and remember the original Loren Eiseley story about the man throwing starfish back into the ocean to save them from dying in the hot sun. Well today, we at The Great Animal Rescue Chase have a special treat for you — a real-life remake of that story, only this time to save a Horseshoe Crab. Enjoy!

Written by Roberta Reynolds

On a very nice Sunday morning in May, my husband Dave Zamba and I were walking a Connecticut beach. Locals consider this beach “abandoned” since it is connected to what was a summer community, but has since been demolished. Very few visit here, particularly in New England’s springtime.We noticed a few Horseshoe Crab carcasses as we walked, which is normal; all of them had been consumed from underneath.

We saw one, above the high tide mark, flipped over on its back, completely intact but limp. Dave picked it up, both of us sad that the poor thing had probably died slowly due to exposure. He put it back on the beach, right side up and while we mentioned we should put it in the water so it didn’t go to waste and could feed another creature — it moved! Then we noticed the tag: a round, white, plastic circle held onto the carapace with a grommet. But this was overshadowed by the fact that we needed to get it back in the water ASAP.

A beautiful pair of Horseshoe Crabs at the water's edge

My husband placed it at the water’s edge and we stood back. The poor thing was so exhausted it had trouble moving so he picked it up again and waited for a wave (ocean was calm, these weren’t breakers by any means) to take it back out. Well, again, it was so exhausted, it couldn’t get a hold of the ground and started to be tossed, upside down, even in the gentle waves. We both knew we couldn’t leave it like this, but now we couldn’t reach it. Before I could untie one shoe, my husband had both shoes and socks off and was in the water. This was May in New England. I have no idea what the water temperature was, though it was not swimming weather, but that didn’t impede my husband. He was in, up above his knees, gently maneuvering the crab onto the ocean floor so it could get a grip and walk away. This took a bit of time since the poor crab had been exposed for an unknown amount of time, but eventually, it got its bearing and went on its way.

As Dave started to walk out of the water, he noticed two conjoined Horseshoe Crabs, cruising along the water’s edge, creating the next generation of crabs.We completely forgot to get the information on the rescued crab’s tag to call it in as a “sighting” but, at the moment, the crab’s life was much more important. We hope it lives to help create the next generation of crabs, too.

The Original Starfish Story

No act of compassion is too small.

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.” ― Loren Eiseley

Because Each of Us Has a Hero Inside

Lori Stokes rescued this kitten and her whole office helped care for him.

The Great Animal Rescue Chase was built upon the starfish principle. We believe that every life matters and no act of kindness is ever too small.  Our international rescue tournament is for everyday heroes like Roberta and Dave. We invite all of you to take part by enjoying our ‘good news’ stories or sharing one of your own.  And for those of you with an appetite for more, please take a peak at our Harmony Fund charity, which supports a very large network of small but truly mighty animal rescue squads all over the world.


Related Stories:

Beyond the Starfish: Creating Systemic, Lasting Change in the New Year

Northern California Fishermen Free Entangled Gray Whale

Lost Dolphin Stranded Off Southern California Coast


Primary Starfish image: Pavel Chernobrivets | Dreamstime.com, Crab photo: Florence Mcginn | Dreamstime.com, Smaller starfish image: Kaczor58 | Dreamstime.com

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

truly, we each have heroes inside of us :)

Loo Samantha
Loo sam3 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Exactly the point!

Carrie Anne Brown

great article thanks for sharing :)

Judith H.
Judith H.3 years ago

all creatures are worth saving!

Shanie Mangulins
Shanie Mangulin3 years ago

Thank you...this is what good works are really about.

Shanie Mangulins
Shanie Mangulin3 years ago

Fhank you...this is what good works are about!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim3 years ago

Great article, thanks for sharing :)

jackie w.
jackie w.3 years ago

"We belive that every life matters and no act of kindness is ever too small".
Well, that sums it up. You know, some Buddhists buy and release crabs back to freedom.

Patricia S.
Patricia Smyth3 years ago

Humans are capable of immense acts of compassion and empathy for all that suffer. Why are we then also capable of immense acts of cruelty, intolerance and hate?