Update By: Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC
We constructed our first oyster reef on Delaware Bay as part of the weekend's “Shell-a-Bration.” On the day of the construction, a roaring northwesterly wind pounded Reed Beach highlighting the need for this research. The reef is modest by design, our goal is to create an experiment to help understand how reefs protect the beach, create sheltered water for breeding horseshoe crabs, and to find out if crabs can navigate past them to the beach. Joe Smith checked the reefs on Monday to determine the impact of the windy weekend assault and so far so good, the reefs held up.
The beach work is progressing well. As seen in the pictures below, the first phase of the Thompson’s Beach project nears completion. A beach that was once rubble and sod is now a superior horseshoe crab breeding habitats. Our next phase will focus on the beach to the east. The equipment troubles of last week are past, but one dump truck nearly overturned after driving too close the road’s edge. The front end loader stopped the fully loaded truck from overturning with its bucket while the bulldozer pulled it out of the marsh.
Boomer Huen and Eric Johnson press forward on the beach building at Fortescue. They continue to add sand to the top of the beach and the sea continues to smooth it into the inter-tidal zone. We expect the beach to be complete in two weeks.
Last week a harp seal showed up on Thompson's Beach, alive but unable to swim away. As one might guess, harp seals are uncommon on the bay. It was taken away by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, who reported the seal as improving from an impacted intestine.
Dr. Larry Niles has led efforts to protect red knots and horseshoe crabs for over 30 years.