Joining the Horseshoe Crab Ranch and Blood Institute team at KBI represents yet another facet of Tōland’s passion to make a difference in the community. He has already made significant contributions to this project: assisting with aerial site selection in his helicopter; facilitating a team site visit from Georgia to Greensboro via his private plane; and he has committed his boat to the HCRBI project for retrofitting in the event of Phase I grant award.
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Building on two patent-pending innovations, the Institute and the initial grant submission to the National Science Foundation have been conceived in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, University of Georgia Sea Grant (NOAA), Coastal College of Georgia, JSNN and West Georgia University, where Tōland studied while pursuing his love of aviation. The HCRBI provisional patents include: (“Virtual Domestication of Aquatic Species through Native Environment Herding and Free-Range Aquaculture” - US Patent Application No. 62/450,456; “Surgical Implant to Improve Bleeding Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus Polyphemus)” - US Patent Application No. 62/402,321).
Why horseshoe crabs? Since the 1970’s, the pharmaceuticals industry and in turn, millions of patients, have depended on a substance derived from horseshoe crab blood, which is indispensable for sterility testing in drug and medical device safety. Some 600,000 horseshoe crabs are taken from the Atlantic seaboard each year for “harvesting” and tossed back to the water without restorative measures to ensure their wellbeing after bleeding. Such practices have become entirely unsustainable, negatively impacting horseshoe crab reproduction and behavior and compounded by high mortality rates and inexorable industry growth, not to mention threatening several species of migrating birds dependent on the declining horseshoe crab populations. The Horseshoe Crab Ranch and Blood Institute mission is to establish an aquaculture “ranch” to attend to all aspects of the animals’ habitat, nutrition, and vitality while sustainably providing a reliable source of this essential substance to the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry and contributing economically and ecologically to the nearby communities.