MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — What is now five tiny horseshoe crab babies will hopefully lead to a robust population that can be used to further the future of medicine.

Not only are the crabs ecologically valuable, but their blood is used in the biomedicine world to test vaccines and other injectables. That value, however, has led to an onslaught of legal and illegal harvesting that has devastated the population.

“There is a harvesting of horseshoe crabs at such a number that our population has been qualified as poor,” said MaryEllen Mateleska, the senior director of education and conservation at the Mystic Aquarium. “So, we know that we need to protect what we have.”

The aquarium’s aquaculture lab has a license to harvest 200 eggs to try and discover how to get greater numbers of the crabs to survive. The crabs would then be released into the environment to try and boost numbers.

Legislation was introduced last year to protect the crabs. It received unanimous approval in the Connecticut House of Representatives, but never went up for a vote in the Senate.