SMYRNA, DE - The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab sanctuary will have an immediate impact on the population of horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds along the Delaware coast, environmentalists said today. Senator Tom Carper joined members of Delaware's environmental community to kick off the Wildlife Festival at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and observe the first horseshoe crab spawning season since the federal horseshoe crab sanctuary was created. "The establishment of this sanctuary is critically important for the preservation of horseshoe crabs, the well-being of migratory birds, and the commitment to preserve our ocean's resources," Carper said. "The Wildlife festival teaches so many of Delaware's children the beauty of our natural environment and gives them a hands-on chance to learn." This month, Bombay Hook is a spawning ground for the horseshoe crab and a prime location for hundreds of migratory shore birds. It is also the site of Delaware's yearly Wildlife Festival, which this year marks the 98th Birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge System. "The Delaware Audubon Society is grateful for the horseshoe crab sanctuary established at the mouth of Delaware Bay," said Grace W. Pierce-Beck, Conservation Chair for the Delaware Audubon Society. "Shorebirds are arriving by the thousands on the Delaware bay beaches. The birds, nearly starved from their long journey from South America, survive by gorging themselves on the eggs of the horseshoe crabs." First as Governor, and now as Senator, Tom Carper championed the creation of the Carl N. Schuster Horseshoe Crab Preserve, which extends 30 miles from the mouth of Delaware Bay. "We thank Senator Carper for his efforts to provide a safe haven for the crab - an invaluable ancient mariner and a sanctuary that assured survival for thousands of shorebirds," Pierce-Beck said. "Without an abundant supply of crabs, the birds could never survive their long journey to the Arctic where they breed."