1. Bled crabs die at higher than reported rates (Closer to 20%-25% than the reported ~10%-15%)
2. Bled crabs are back at full blood capacity in a week, and usually fully functional within 2-3 months.
3. This crab blood is seriously important to modern medicine (duh?, but hey its nice to have confirmation)
4. Population numbers are all guesses, and I couldn't find a number which I'd be willing to bet on. Low number was ~600k (mature crabs) high number was several million.
5. Losing blood and being thrown back into the ocean is an order of magnitude better than being chopped up and used as bait.
6. A huge number of these crabs get chopped up and used as bait. They're valued at ~$2 each, as bait :(
7. These crabs lay upwards of 50k eggs per season, per female. A specific bird, the Red Knot, which doesn't seem to doesn't have magic medicinally valuable blood shows up and treats the eggs like an all you can eat buffet.
8. The Red Knot population has been on the rebound, thanks to conservation efforts revolving around the horseshoe crab, and the expanded food supply that offers.
Enough other people have gone over the various moral issues with this, and I don't think I'd be able to add much there. To me, the whole situation seems trivial to solve, via enhanced conservation efforts, and heavily reduced bait harvesting. Probably wouldn't hurt to make a few Red Knot omelettes too. Bleed + Release > Bait harvest/baby crab genocide via bird.
With proper regulation, it seems possible this could be done somewhat humanely— particularly if the draw from any one crab was strictly limited, and their time out of water was also very limited. Eg, if the facilities were right on board the boat, so it would out and back in all within in the span of a few hours.
I guess I'm missing something, how is this in any way comparable to that? They're not cutting off a piece of the crab, just drawing some blood and putting them back. Why would they bleed out and die? Do humans bleed out and die after drawing blood?
So they simulated this with a bunch of crabs - caught a bunch, let them sit out in the sun for a while, transported them, bled them, let them sit some more, then tossed them back in. Half of them they didn't bleed (control); before they tossed them in, they attached tracking devices to their backs, and are monitoring their movements.
Now - they don't say what the data they got back is or means or which crabs they came from. But from the article, it's apparent that at least some of the crabs are still moving around and are alive. How many, what they are doing, if they are acting normal - none of that is mentioned.
It will be interesting in what they eventually find. I don't think it's reasonable to say there isn't any effect from the practices they describe - it certainly seems like there could be issues based on the conditions and amount of blood drawn (and the fact that they aren't breathing while out of water - for what sounds like several days minimum!). What I hope they find is that things aren't as bad as feared, but that some minor changes can be made to make the creatures less stressed.
Hopefully we'll find out very soon...
If you take a third of it, then throw them in the woods to fend for themselves, some definitely will.
Class III Hemorrhage involves loss of 30-40% of circulating blood volume. The patient's blood pressure drops, the heart rate increases, peripheral hypoperfusion (shock), such as capillary refill worsens, and the mental status worsens. Fluid resuscitation with crystalloid and blood transfusion are usually necessary.
This breaks the HN guideline against calling names in arguments: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. Please don't do that in comments here, or edit it out when it slips in.
"Comparing this to a minor inconvenience is intellectually dishonest" <- rough paraphrasing of the comment
"I read what you wrote, you are intellectually dishonest" <- a true attack against a person
The comment may not have been terribly civil (and that's a good reason for criticism) but I honestly don't see it as name calling.
When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."
The guideline contains practical advice for how to edit the name-calling out of these things: simply shorten them. In this case, "Comparing X to Y is intellectually dishonest [or asinine]" can be shortened to "X is not Y".
 - Appreciated.
I wish they would have elaborated on this. Are the alternatives known to be inferior at this time, or are they promising, but stuck in the long, complicated approval process?
But a different, better avenue to avoid using the LAL test is to simply not have endotoxin present in the first place . If at least vaccines and medicines can be produced in strains without LAL-positive LPS, that should lower the test's usage significantly.
For example, consider if there is a simple case where the test is not administered at all today in some cases, due to the cost. (Use your imagination.) In that case "good enough" to quickly administer for a quick read, might well be a very low threshold indeed! Who says "good enough to administer" must be "the best level in existence"?
This is the medical field. There is no well enough.
Even modeling for cancer detection we do 95% and medical device they do 99% confidence interval IIRC. And with model, we choose sensitivity over specificity. We rather accidentally diagnosed them with cancer over accidentally say they don't have cancer when they do.
Also FDA might have a bar what well enough is, and it could high enough that other companies cannot pass it.
You said it yourself!
>Even modeling for cancer detection we do 95% and medical device they do 99% confidence interval IIRC
So, in these applications, 95% and 99% respectively is the meaning of good enough.
So to put these in crab terms: maybe the crabs do it at 99.99% (3.89 sigma) and the synthetic they want to push through is only 99%, only 2.5 sigma.
So I am saying 99% can be good enough in some contexts - just as you've said.
Especially if it costs thousands to do it a la crab.
It doesn't have to be better than the crabs' blood to be good enough.
It is effective for testing most of the same products as LAL, and it has been accepted as an "alternative method" by the FDA and European Pharmacopeia. That means it can be used but with more extensive, expensive validation testing. There are some products it's not compatible with, and there is a small set of products that are more easily tested with the alternative enzyme.
Also interesting that the article doesn't mention the standard before the LAL method was discovered: rabbits were injected with the test material and monitored for developing a fever.
It's a RebelBio (née IndieBio EU) company.
great to see you here. I left Sothic recently, let's get back in touch :^)
Classic chicken and egg problem here. These companies don't want to invest in the lengthy regulatory approval process because they aren't sure they'll pass so progress on these alternative methods gets stalled, thus ensuring they look sub-optimal on paper, so the perceived risk level is probably higher than it should be.
Considering there are two alternatives here, one involving synthetically cloning DNA and the other simply using human blood, I can probably see why industry is slow to move off the crab blood process. The former is most likely much more expensive and patent encumbered, while the later involves harvesting humans instead of crabs. Human blood is needed for transfusions and has a high demand, so it makes sense to just use animal blood for endotoxin testing.
The dead also can't answer questions about their illness history. There's a lot of legwork with blood that organs don't typically require.
The blood is still usable for several hours after clinical death.
I'm not sure about the suitability of using blood from old, sick and/or heavily medicated people.
Just seeing these crabs with a history stretching back into ancient times, strapped in and needles inserted into them looks so awful. I don't want to believe it's considered acceptable practice in the modern era to do such things, regardless of its medical benefits.
There's been school shootings so single murders don't matter?
There were so many more deaths in world war two than in world war one, so WWI doesn't matter?
And this is ignoring the fact that your "worse" claim was based on your own personal ethics which is, at best, subjective.
(Regarding the cockroach - don't Americans have the right to shoot human tresspassers? The crab on the other hand is plucked out of water which is its own home. This is not to say I'm against the practice - I'm not, unless the crab might go extinct.)
That's a complicated question, but quite often "no" for mere trespass; the actual laws vary by state.
"Stand your ground" laws just mean there is no duty(law) to seek retreat above all else before actively defending yourself.
"Castle", in California, simply means that if an intruder has bypassed a control (picked a lock, broke a window, etc) to gain entry then one can proceed on the assumption that they are there to do grave bodily harm. (And thus act accordingly.)
Close... they require the person standing-ground to perceive a threat. The laws do vary state-by-state, but they tend to be universally broad.
"For example, Michigan's stand-your-ground law, MCL 780.972, provides that "[a]n individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if ... [t]he individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent" the imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault of himself or another individual."
* Stand-your-ground law - Wikipedia || https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-your-ground_law
According to this, if I thought someone was a habitual sex offender, I think I'd be within my right to sniper him from a mile off... so... clearly that's a stretch... but it has been stretched pretty thin before.
* Joe Horn and Five Years with the Texas Castle Doctrine - The Texas Observer || https://www.texasobserver.org/joe-horn-and-castle-doctrine-s...
> It’s not that he wanted to shoot the intruders next door, he said, “but if I go out there to see what the hell’s going on, what choice am I going to have?” The dispatcher told him again to wait for the police, not to go outside with his shotgun, that nobody needed to die for stealing.
> Horn was unconvinced. “The laws have been changed…since September the first, and I have a right to protect myself,” Horn said. “I ain’t gonna let them get away with this shit. I’m sorry, this ain’t right, buddy … They got a bag of loot … Here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”
> “Move, you’re dead,” he told the men, then he fired three times, killing both men, and returned to the phone in his house.
> “I had no choice, they came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice,” he told the dispatcher. Police arrived seconds later. Horn wasn’t arrested, nor was he indicted by a grand jury that later considered the case.
Stand-Your-Ground laws remove the «escape first» part outside of the home aswell.
You are always required to only respond with appropriate force. So you may not gun down someone who isn't a threat to your life.
"Stand your ground" laws eliminate the duty to retreat outside the home for self-defense, but don't generally lower the justification threshold.
> This is saving human lives.
Maybe I'm weird, but I often wonder why we value our own kind so highly above all others. Is a human life that much more important/valuable than another species? If so, why?
Or is it just a preservation instinct?
Kill them just in case.
Thus, if it helps humans a bit, in the long run, it could help all the life on this planet. Also, these guys are working on the problem https://rebelbio.co/sothic-bioscience-saving-human-lives-and...
There's plans to do it, but nothing will be ready for another few decades.
Even if we're lucky to detect it very early, we'd have to quickly create a delivery system for nuclear warheads all the way to the asteroid - ICBMs are not designed for orbit or escape. And then accurately rendezvous and detonate them. Just blowing an asteroid into smaller pieces is not acceptable.
It's possible in theory, but I'm not sure it will work in practice.
So from a planetary ecosystem perspective, every species on Earth not directly involved with humans or horseshoe crabs should prefer to force the horseshoe crabs to help the humans in some way whenever they are able to do so. Those species should also prefer that humans not make horseshoe crabs extinct, just in case that they might be the critical link in some "for lack of a nail" causality chain which prevents humans from preventing the mass-extinction event.
It's very much like forbidding a brilliant researcher from doing his or her own cooking and laundry. You hire a less-brilliant assistant to take care of all mundane needs, so that the researcher is thinking about your important problem at peak efficiency.
Besides that, the guaranteed-to-work plan for dealing with a massive meteor strike is to transplant additional copies of Earth's ecosystems to other planets. If you build a Mars colony, and ship enough seeds and embryos there, you have prevented the extinction event, even if you couldn't do anything about the meteor impact.
Well, maybe and only if you take the position that all life and/or suffering are irrelevant on a cosmic scale.
If they are not irrelevant, then we can't know if there's any benefit to our continued existence.
Will lessons that we learn here on this planet one day be used to alleviate the suffering of other sentient beings on another? We don't know but if that happens, I would argue that it was a benefit of us having lived.
So as a planet, we're going to construct durable spores and spray them out into the cosmos until that capability is destroyed. Then those spores will eventually contact other celestial bodies and activate as much Earth life as is possible in the environmental conditions there. That life will spread and evolve, possibly far enough to make its own durable spores in the future.
Thus, life will eventually spread to every available niche in the galaxy. We do not know whether Earth life originated on Earth or from some other planet's probe, and it really doesn't matter. We still have to build the ships and launch them, or the information amassed by the millions of years of evolving Earth life will be lost with the destruction of Earth.
That's nothing to the rest of the universe. But it's everything to us. My legacy as an individual organism is to reproduce fertile offspring. That's the biological imperative. If you never had grandchildren, you never really mattered to the current state of the planet. So what is that on a planet-wide scale? If you never build an offworld colony that will go on to build an offworld colony, nothing your planet did will ever matter.
Nihilism is not only unproductive, it feels bad too. Upgrade to utilitarianism with a strong personal/local bias. Or, if you're a nice guy, utilitarianism in general.
An additional challenge is that the readout is at the bottom of a signal-amplified cascade . And that cascade magnifies any error you have at the top (which is where that finicky Factor-C lives). Older synthetic assays read-out straight from activation of that first signal from Factor-C. This paper tries to recreate a portion of the cascade before reading out a result. But that now means you not only need to produce the Factor-C, the machinery to ensure Factor-C is properly produced, but you also need at least a few of the downstream components as well. So now you have a multi-component synthetic system - with all the grinding through the search-space and tuning that comes from having to optimize a multi-component biological system in vitro.
That's a pretty complicated problem. The paper just came out less then two months ago, and concludes, "The present study supports the future production of recombinant reagents that do not require the use of natural resources". We're on the right track, but it seems this is actually a tricky problem.
 (Factor-C protein) http://www.uniprot.org/uniprot/P28175
 (Coagulation Cascade) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5302069/figure/...
- Woods, Rondelez, Schabanel dna tiles computing (turing complete molecular computing)
We're not far from being able to leave nature alone .. let's help these guys.
They also focus too much on the bleeding. What matters is how many die from both the bleeding and the handling. The "control group" should be wild and uncaught animals.
I remember reading an interesting article about bleeding squirrels to study their relationship with snakes (through blood one can tell if they have every been bitten by a venomous snake). Squirrels don't have much blood. So the scientists determined that they needed a caged recovery period with free food/water, and a shot of antibiotics, before being returned. Maybe too these crabs.
> There are currently no quotas on how many crabs one can bleed because biomedical laboratories drain only a third of the crab's blood, then put them back into the water, alive.
If it's just a needle insertion, why is this such a big deal? The crabs shouldn't be bleeding after, and I don't see why they would be very damaged.
It's saving human lives. I don't think it's ridiculous to say that human lives are worth more than some momentary discomfort for crabs.
Well: says the human.
Yes, that'd be due to the fact that we see humans as equals, and the same is not true for humans and horseshoe crabs.
(I mean beliefs about prisoners being "bad" or "tainted" or whatever and people not wanting to receive their blood)
We seem to be a species that likes to destroy entire environments and extinguish other species. We can always say, "but it was for our well-being".
Where do you draw the line, then? Some people live a vegan lifestyle (I don't), some will not wear fur, or like to buy products that are tested on animals - or other products that are mass produced by wiping out entire forests for a mono crop.
To further the philosophical debate, what if you apply the same emotional attachment you have on a loved one, to the animal? Would you harvest an organ from your family dog, if it meant your brother had a 50% chance of living? What if the dog had a 50% chance of surviving the operation to remove the organ? What if those chances were greater or less?
I agree that the benefit for humans is there, but it's often times a bit more than than just 'momentary discomfort' for the crab
"Overall mortalities of bled horseshoe crabs were 17.8% (male = 18.75%; female = 17.2%), while mortalities of unbled crabs were 3.5%."
So it appears it indeed affects the crabs.
I did field work to study horseshoe crabs' near-shore behavior as part of my master's work. Fortunately we weren't bleeding them.
The article talks about how there's a bit of evidence to suggest that it may be a big deal, but that we really don't understand these animals so we're not really sure.
From the guidelines, which serve to improve the civility of news.yc significantly: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
Please don't insinuate that someone hasn't read an article. "Did you even read the article? It mentions that" can be shortened to "The article mentions that."
I am ever so slightly skeptical.
I wouldn't be surprised if this while article was a fabrication created as some social experiment to test was people will believe. "We bleed 1/3 of the blood out of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of horseshoe crabs then put them back in the wild... and you have never heard about it or seen it happen."
This article just sets off my radar is a particular "April Fool's!" kind of way. Can't put my finger on it.
Seems like it'd be easy enough to figure out if they are surviving or not, and seems like we could make adjustments to how much blood is drained based on the weight of the crab if we are killing them (or drain more blood so we kill fewer of them). How hard is it to glue an RFID tag on each one and dump them into a football field sized enclosure with a net wall around it?
Or maybe we release them into a nutrient rich tank full of their favorite food before we release them back into the wild? The equivalent of giving them a juice box after a blood draw?
Now... as for cruelty... yup, it's pretty barbaric sounding. I don't know how to weight this against human suffering they are helping to avert. I'm certain that if we were smaller than them, they just eat us and not think twice about it. Nice we have evolved to the point where we care about other types of life, isn't it? No clue how to measure human vs crab life, but I have to think that human life is a bit more valuable -- at least to other humans.
Presumably this blood draining procedure has gone through a medical ethics review?
There's no IRB because it's not funded research, just harvesting resources from animals.
When it comes to farming, there are no federal laws governing treatment of farmed animals, and most states exempt farmed animals from anti-cruelty laws. I doubt this would actually be categorized as farming, so there's likely no regulations around it.
Funny you should say "alien" - I watched "Under The Skin" recently, and then read excerpts from the book. Without spoiling it, the fate of human (males) in the book is far, far worse than in the film. (Search "vodsel processing" if you want to find out more).
Finally made me become vegetarian.
LOL, how is that comparable at all...
The closest thing would be chimps or dolphins and we don't eat either.
Only Isserley speaks English because she's been trained to do so.
So it's directly comparable.
I'm still not going vegetarian though.
I'm against whales and dolphins being kept in small area confinement. But I could hardly care about a crab being bled.
The only concern is on the survivability of the species and the effect on the greater ecosystem.
This is very rational and I don't see anything morally wrong with it. Nor do the vast majority of other scientists. Many of whom know much more about the species than I do.
The end result is we have a unique way to test for bacteria in a variety of applications that at most save lives, or at a minimum vastly improve the quality.
> Their distinctive blue blood is used to detect dangerous Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli in injectable drugs such as insulin, implantable medical devices such as knee replacements, and hospital instruments such as scalpels and IVs.
No we don't. We keep dogs, we* kill pigs and eat them.
*) 'We' meaning a generalised 'you'. I don't.
Basically it's come down to humans deciding the fate of so many animals. We keep our cows and pigs in very narrow places and just enough systems for their survival but no regard for their emotional needs.
Because we are the dominant spicies we act according to our selfish interests. A smarter intelligent spices will probably do the same. If we somehow end up being useful for them, our fate might be the same as chickens, pigs and cows.
It's self preservation, plain and simple. Non-human life is useful and worthwhile only insofar as it improves human life. As it happens, that includes, some would say luckily, trying to preserve a whole lot of lifeforms because we don't yet know whether they will be needed in the future.
I can't find any reason to consider this immoral or wrong in any way. I think it's beyond morality - merely an inevitable side-effect of existence.
With strangers, the expected return would have to be better, probably by a factor of ten or so.
One of the problems with this approach is that estimating expected utility gains (especially other people's) is hard.
And of course you get the weird edge cases with people (think serial killers) deriving pleasure from hurting other people, so you have to use some kind of objective measure that applies at least to most of the population, rather than just trusting the other person that "it really does it for them".
Based on what I read, these crabs are basically given a death sentence. I'd rather them be killed and harvested than bloodsucked tortured and thrown back into a predator ecosystem where they are too delirious and pretty much get butchered by whatever's out there.
> The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which sets global standards for species extinction, created a horseshoe crab subcommittee in 2012 to monitor the issue. The group decided last year that the American horseshoe crab is "vulnerable" to extinction—a higher level of danger compared to the last Red List assessment in 1996.
An artificial replacement might be the only long term solution. Or mass breeding, if it is indeed so expensive.
> And then there's the pure damn necessity. While several companies have come up with synthetic alternatives for detecting the presence of endotoxins in vaccines, medicine, and medical instruments, LAL is still the only test that has received FDA approval.
> And evidence is accumulating that the death rate of bled horseshoe crabs is much higher (more like 29 percent versus 15 percent)
You do understand that a majority means more than 50% right? So 29 percent is not a majority, and certainly not an overwhelming majority
Granted I don't know how often crabs are re-caught, or if they would have the same chance of dying each time.
* Environmental - Are we diminishing the horseshoe crab population in a way that'll adversely affect the environment?
* Sustainability - Will our current methods be able to supply indefinitely increasing demand for horseshoe crab blood?
* Practicality - Are we using a natural resource as a way to avoid a more responsible or practical engineered solution (compare: whale oil)?
I don't claim a satisfactory answer to any of these (I just don't know enough about horseshoe crabs), but a "yes" for any of them represents a plausible ethical concern.
I don't think we have any workable theory at this point that would explain how exactly (biological) neural networks produce pain, or predict how complex they need to be to do so.
It's an odd line to draw, but that's apparently the line: whether or not there's a spine.