Stories from the Bay
Last week, American Littoral Society restoration staff, along with project partners Steve Hafner of Stockton University’s Coastal Research Center and biologists Drs. Larry Niles and Joe Smith of LJ Niles Associates, met with permit reviewers from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for a site visit at the marsh behind Thompsons Beach.
Due to a history of salt hay farming, like many of the marshes in the Delaware Bay, the sites at Thompsons Marsh have not been able to reach an elevation that could support a variety of vegetation and habitat for marsh nesting birds. Marshes also play a major role in keeping our coastlines resilient by absorbing wave energy and protecting surrounding communities from flooding during storm events.
Our team has proposed to dredge the creeks on either side of the project area and re-use the sediment on the adjacent marsh, which would raise the marsh to an elevation that would support other species of vegetation and help maintain protection for surrounding communities. The USACE permit reviewers showed particular interest in this project, wanted to gain better understanding of the ecological benefits, and praised the thoroughness of our pre-restoration scientific research. We are currently in the final permitting stages and hope to begin work by late September.
Come "shell-a-brate" with the American Littoral Society as we build another oyster reef in Delaware Bay. The free event will take place at Thompsons Beach, 163 Thompsons Beach Road, Maurice River Township, Cumberland County,NJ on Saturday, April 8 from 12:30-4:30 p.m.
There will be family fun and food for this happy occasion, but we're also going to do a bit of work. The work will include carrying bags of shell to a site just off the beach.
Saturday’s shell bagging event on the docks of the Maurice River in Port Norris, NJ resulted in a record number of shell bags being produced.
The unseasonably warm, sunny day encouraged 44 volunteers from New Jersey and New York, along with students from the Vineland High School Interact Club, to fill more than 1,000 net bags with shell. Those bags will be used to build an intertidal reef at Thompsons Beach at the Littoral Society’s 3rd Annual Shell-a-bration on April 8.
It took us long into the night to reach our next port. We went from the relatively populated area of Braganza to the dark heart of this coastal region of Viseu. In three trucks, we caravanned through a maze of remnant tropical rainforests, cattle pasture an impenetrable second-growth woodland. Along the rain-slicked red clay road, small and desperate looking towns popped out of nowhere always looking like the past was a better day. The road cut through countless mangrove forests that define this region. We reached Viseu too late to do anything but find a place to stay the night.
A bridge across the many rivers from Braganca to Visiu, Brazil. Photo by Christophe Buiden
It’s hard to imagine the difficulties of people living at latitude 37 degrees north when coming to the equator in northern Brazil. It challenges even the hardiest of biologists. But after three days our team has not only acclimated but accomplished surveys in two separate estuaries.
Ruddy turnstone multiyear flight recorded by a geolocator caught in Maranhoa Brazil.
By Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC
We leave a cold and dark New Jersey with mixed feelings for our destination to tropical Brazil. It will be warm and sunnyish – though forecasts predict drenching thunderstorms threatening us every day of our trip. We will explore a very new place, the ocean coast of Para, a largely unsurveyed coast known to be a wintering shorebird mecca. At the same time, we will undergo trials experienced by few biologists. Zika is prevalent in Para, but recent cases of malaria are equally alarming. Of course, one must be ever vigilant for food and water pathogens. Last year, I developed food poisoning ending me up in a rural hospital, with a room full of very sick people. On arrival, I wondered what comes next?
A small part of the sprawling city of Sao Jose de Ribamar.
The American Littoral Society needs your help to bag shell for two new intertidal reefs to be built in the Delaware Bay this spring. We have the materials in place, but need some helping hands to fill the bags on Saturday, Jan. 28 & Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Foul weather dates are Sunday, Jan. 29 & Feb. 26. The work will take place at 8779 Berry Ave., Port Norris, NJ.
Google maps: http://ow.ly/gopZ306DRko
The bagged shell will be used at one of the horseshoe crab beach restoration projects along the Delaware Bay. Reefs off those beaches provide calmer waters for horseshoe crab spawning, as well as habitat for juvenile fish and invertebrate species.
The work will take place on the docks of the Maurice River. It will involve cutting and tying bags, filling mesh bags with shells, and stacking the bags. The shell bags will weigh approximately 20 pounds each. The task will be dirty and a bit smelly, so be sure to dress appropriately.
Lunch will be provided for all volunteers.For more information, please contact Quinn Whitesall at Quinn@littoralsociety.org.
Quinn will also be bagging shell on the following Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (Lunch not provided):
February 1, 2, 7-9, 21-23, 28
March 1, 2, 14-16, 21-23
Bagging will be weather dependent, so please contact Quinn if you plan on attending any of the weekday bagging days.
By Quinn Whitesall, Habitat Restoration Technician, American Littoral Society
On a blustery Saturday morning, fifteen volunteers met Captain Al and the Restoration Team amongst mountains of whelk shell along the Delaware Bay. The goal of 500 shell bags seemed daunting at first, but our crew of volunteers knocked out shell bags at record speed. Volunteers from McGuire-Dix Joint Base and previous reef builders filled the tubes with shells as the kids loaded the truck with completed bags. Truckloads were delivered to the next lot over where 10 empty pallets were waiting. Over half of the ten pallets were completed before we broke for lunch. Volunteers and staff gathered around Captain Al’s truck where cheese pizza from Dino’s awaited them. Captain Al gave a brief talk about the three reefs that have been built already and that these 500 shell bags will go towards the 5,000 bags needed to build two more reefs at Thompsons and Dyers, followed by a thank you for their hard work. As the wind began to pick up, staff and volunteers got back to bagging shells and completing the remaining two pallets, plus a little extra for the next round of shell-bagging. As volunteers finished, they expressed interest in helping to build the reefs come April.
500 bags down, only 4500 bags to go.
You and your family are “whelk-come” to join American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation for our 2nd Annual Veterans Day on the Bay, scheduled for Saturday, November 12 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Moores Beach on the Delaware Bayshore.
This Veterans Day event will dedicate the reef built in April, 2016 at the 2nd Annual Shell-A-Bration, during which volunteers braved the elements and helped build the oyster reef at Moores Beach.
The 1st Annual Veterans Day on the Bay took place on November 11, 2015 at South Reeds Beach. The reef was dedicated to all veterans and highlighted veteran involvement in the effort to restore New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore. Event attendees honored their own military veterans by inscribing that special person's name on a shell and placing that shell on “Veterans Reef.”
This year we’d like to continue to show our appreciation and mark the progress we’ve made by dedicating another reef to a specific military branch. The 2nd Annual Veterans Day on the Bay, which will feature:
By Emily Hofmann, Project Coordinator, Conserve Wildlife Foundation
Although the weather was on the brink of being rainy and bleak, that did not stop a team of dedicated biologists and volunteers from building an oyster reef on the Delaware Bayshore this past Saturday. Committed volunteers and young people braved the weather to work alongside American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation to build a near-shore oyster reef at Dyers Cove, at the end of Dyers Creek Road in Newport, Cumberland County, New Jersey.
This reef – like the one at South Reeds Beach – was built to protect restoration work done after Hurricane Sandy and provide habitat. Constructed to prevent sand loss from wind-driven waves and create calmer water for spawning horseshoe crabs, this is the third of five such reefs that have been built by the Littoral Society and CWF. The conservation organizations will continue to monitor whether the reef breakwaters help reduce beach erosion and create calmer water for spawning horseshoe crabs.
Due to the heavy rain over the course of the week, the conditions were not ideal. Low-tide never went below waist deep, so it was hard to construct the reef accordingly. But that did not stop the team!
"Every oyster reef we’ve built so far on the Delaware Bay incorporated a different restoration strategy. We have had to adapt new strategies with what has worked best in the past and with what will realistically work based on site conditions. By blending the successes from the previous reefs with innovative approaches, we have been able to construct three reefs to date,” said Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Program Director for the American Littoral Society.
The bayshore beaches need restoration and improved resiliency so that horseshoe crabs have proper breeding grounds. Crab eggs feed migratory shorebirds, like the Red Knot, which stops in New Jersey each spring on its long journey from South America to the Arctic Circle. The Red Knot and other shorebirds help bring $11 million in tourist dollars to New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore region each year.
"New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore hosts an annual wildlife spectacle of global significance - the time-honored migration of Red Knots to reach the eggs of these ancient horseshoe crabs," said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Executive Director. "Volunteer projects like this help connect the people of New Jersey with these endangered shorebirds and the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world.”
“Originally, this event was a bare-bones volunteer effort of placing shell bags off the Dyers Cove eastern beach," said Capt. Al. "But thanks to a donation from Betancourt, Van Hemmen, Greco & Kenyon, we will have a ‘shell-a-bration’ that celebrates the ecology and community of the Delaware Bayshore."
In 2015, over 130 volunteers and veterans built an oyster reef at South Reeds Beach in the first annual Shell-a-Bration. That same year, Veterans Day on the Bay dedicated the reef to all veterans and highlighted veteran involvement in the effort to restore New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore. The second annual Shell-a-Bration, held in April 2016, saw a handful of dedicated volunteers brave a blizzard to build a reef at Moore's Beach. The third annual Shell-Bration will be held this coming Spring 2017.
"There are many strategies to defend our Delaware Bayshore, but one of the best and most productive are these oyster reefs," stated Dr. Larry Niles, a biologist with the American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. "They not only replicate a lost but important habitat on Delaware Bay - reefs once covered much of the bayshore - but they provide just enough protection to make a difference in how long our beaches persist against the unrelenting forces of nature. In a way, we are fighting nature with nature."