History of GCA

Global Conservation Alliance (GCA) was formed by three individuals specifically to address creative and significant solutions to stop the Red Knot's (Calidris canutus rufa) race toward extinction in the Americas. The population trend of these shorebirds runs so steeply downward that it occurred to us that some alternative source of food might be found to supplement the diminished stocks of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) eggs that are naturally found along the shores of Delaware Bay during May and June each year, the once-plentiful eggs that the northbound shorebirds count on to fuel the last long leg in their annual journey to breed in the Arctic.

GCA Founders

GCA: Porter Turnbull GCA: Lanny McDowell GCA: Norman Famous

Porter Turnbull


Lanny McDowell


Norman Famous



GCA spent a week at the end of May of 2008 assessing the situation in the Cape May area of New Jersey, talking with shorebird researchers, with other naturalists and fishermen and experimenting with a man-made food item we obtained from a zoo food supply company. With a grant from the Marine Conservation Action Fund at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Mass. we bought 500 pounds of this fish-based feed to offer to the shorebirds in their natural habitat.


The 2009 season found GCA again on the beaches above Cape May on Delaware Bay. Two research experiments were conducted by five workers to lay the groundwork for programs during the 2010 migration. One program recorded the number of Limulus eggs in samples taken at various depths on active horseshoe crab nesting beaches before and after the nests were raked to the surface by researchers, to chart how many more eggs became mixed into the upper two inches of the sand surface where shorebirds feed. The second experiment involved observing how feeding shorebirds, including Red Knots, react to shallow troughs raked into the beach sand exposing more eggs to shorebird predation. The raked troughs were dug at right angles to a rising tide. To see pictures of this, view GCA's 2009 Pictorial Review.

GCA's full report of its research activities in 2009: 2009 Report


The scope of field work in 2010 was somewhat modest, compared to the previous two years, because two of our founders were physically unable to be in New Jersey. GCA's ongoing intention to address the threats to the Red Knot and other shorebirds was not diminished in the least, however. GCA obtained permits for and conducted on-site research on Delaware Bay, which was conducted by our two colleagues from Pennsylvania, John Patrick Brown and Kevin Weir, who shipped horseshoe crab eggs to Norm Famous in Maine for analysis.

GCA's full report of its research activities in 2010: 2010 Report


All of our research and community outreach efforts in 2011 vectored in the same direction ... not losing the Red Knot due to reduced food supplies. Corporate funding came through in the eleventh hour to cover our transport and living expenses for ten days on site at Delaware Bay. Work on the beaches collecting shorebird legband numbers was one of our projects; and we held a series of significant outreach meetings with activists and aquaculture researchers in the Delaware Bay watershed. To get more current, please view the Current News and Looking Forward pages.

GCA's current proposal for provisioning Red Knots: Current Proposal