Evaluating the success of horseshoe crab and migratory shorebird habitat restoration on Delaware Bay beaches damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy’s impacts on communities along the Atlantic coast are well-known, but the storm also damaged communities and wildlife habitat on the Delaware Bay. The storm stripped sand from beaches on the New Jersey side of the bay, exposing large sections of peat and rubble. Surveys conducted just after the storm revealed that over 70% of the optimal beach spawning habitat for Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus) had been destroyed. This loss was a potential catastrophe for the Atlantic flyway population of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa), an imperiled species that depends on horseshoe crab eggs for food during its spring migration stopover at the Delaware Bay. To prevent this catastrophe, a coalition of biologists, NGOs and public agencies led an initiative to restore beaches for birds and crabs in 2013, with follow up work in 2014. Five restored beaches and three unrestored beaches were intensively monitored following restoration to assess project success and to create a firm scientific basis for future restoration projects.