Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History


Nature Screen: CRASH: A Tale of Two Species


In her riveting and stunningly beautiful 2011 documentary, CRASH: A Tale of Two Species, Brewster native and award-winning natural history filmmaker, Allison Argo, documents the threat of extinction to a small shorebird called the Red Knot that must make a 10,000-mile journey from the southern tip of South America to its nesting grounds in the Arctic. This long-distance traveler times its migration precisely to coincide with the annual spawning of one of earth's most ancient creatures: the horseshoe crab. It is horseshoe crab eggs on the Delaware Bay that fuel the little bird’s epic journey to the Arctic.

Since the 1970s, we have used horseshoe crab blood for medical purposes. But we may have gone too far as horseshoe crab numbers have declined significantly since the early 1990’s when the fishing industry discovered that they make good bait for eel and conch. As these industries boomed, horseshoe crabs were collected by the truckload, and red knot numbers started to crash.

With its armored shell, ancient anatomy, and 350-million-year lineage, the horseshoe crab almost seems too inconspicuous to stir up controversy. Yet this humble creature is at the very center of a collision between these three completely different species.

The story of the red knot and the horseshoe crab is a living example of how every species is interconnected, each one important, no matter how big or small. As the fate of two extraordinary creatures teeter on the edge, humankind must grapple with the economics and politics of extinction. Narrated by Allison Argo

Free with Museum Admission

Please wear a mask


  • 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM