Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Marine’ Category

US Fish & Wildlife: A new reality for plovers on the Jersey Shore

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
by Bridget Macdonald

Senior biologist for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Todd Pover releases a piping plover, a species he has helped monitor for 25 years. (Jim Verhagen)

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy plowed ashore near Atlantic City, N.J., with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. In its wake, state officials declared it the most destructive natural disaster in the history of New Jersey. It changed communities dramatically.

Natural features of the coastline underwent significant changes too, but in some cases, those changes presented new conservation opportunities that could protect people and wildlife in the face of future storms.

“We were able to identify places where piping plover habitat had been enhanced by the storm,” explained Todd Pover, a senior biologist for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey who has been involved in monitoring the federally threatened shorebird for 25 years. Places like Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, where the storm erased the dunes in a three-quarter mile stretch of beach, creating an open expanse from ocean to bay.

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Just Beneath the Surface: Junior’s 5 Seconds of Fame

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Long Beach Island video series highlights coastal birds of prey and “Junior,” from the Jersey City Falcon Cam!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

When we were contacted to be a part of this LBI centered documentary series, we knew that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share some of our work with coastal raptors, like the osprey and peregrine falcon, and their importance in the local environment and economy. In this video you’ll see us banding “Junior,” who hatched at the Jersey City Falcon Cam this spring, but was removed from his nest after being examined and found to be malnourished. We was fostered into the falcon nest at Sedge Island. You’ll also see video of ospreys on their nest at sites surrounding Long Beach Island, and interviews with my friend, and CWF supporter, Northside Jim, and Kathy Clark, ENSP Supervisory Zoologist.  (more…)

Helping oysters recover in Barnegat Bay through our crab pot recycling program

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

by Emily Heiser

Last week, Conserve Wildlife joined the American Littoral Society at their annual Parade of Boats event in conjunction with the Operation Oyster program.

Conserve Wildlife, through funding from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, has spent the last several years in a related effort to clean up Barnegat Bay.  Removing derelict crab traps or ghost pots from the bay has been an ongoing initiative.  Ghost pots are lost in a variety of ways including improper rigging to buoys and buoy lines cut by passing boat traffic.

The issue spans not only the commercial crabbing industry, but the recreational industry as well.  The longer the pots sit on the bottom of the bay the more likely they are to serve as a deathtrap for a variety of marine species.  The more marine life that becomes trapped the more the pots continue to attract other marine life.  This is of particular concern for Northern Diamondback Terrapins that frequently investigate these pots looking for a quick meal only to be trapped and quickly drown. (more…)

2018 Osprey Outlook

Monday, July 30th, 2018
Insight Into Important (Bio)Indicators: Ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

CWF Osprey Banding Apprentice Northside Jim holds a young osprey, 13/K, after banding.

Mid-summer marks the nestling period of nesting ospreys, a coastal raptor, whose diet consists mainly of fish. As a state that’s heavily influenced by its location along the Atlantic Ocean, they play a critical role in our coastal ecosystem. Ospreys are important bioindicators of the health of our coastal waters, through the lens of their prey, where pollutants are biomagnified through the food chain. As we consume many of the same fish, they show the effects of these pollutants long before humans, so the health of their population has implications for our coastal waters and us! (more…)

CWF Releases New Video About Abandoned Crab Pots in Barnegat Bay

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

by Erin Conversano

Crabbing has been an annual tradition of residents and visitors to the Barnegat Bay region. Yet when those crab pots are abandoned or adrift, they can become death traps for local wildlife, including at-risk species like diamondback terrapin.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s new video “Fishing for a Cleaner Barnegat Bay” details this complex ecological challenge. Produced by Citizen Racecar, the video is now available to the public here.

Due to a passing boat, a storm, or simply forgetfulness, abandoned “ghost” crab pots litter Barnegat Bay, continuing to catch crabs and fish. Worst of all is that when animals get stuck in a crab pot, they attract more animals, which in turn also are trapped. Each animal caught acts as bait for new animals to come along.

Some fish species that get caught are blackfish and sea bass. And since the crab pots are just lying at the bottom of the Bay, they do not get emptied out. As a result, any fish that get caught in the crab pots can’t escape and end up starving to death.

Some bycatch findings in retrieved crab pots

Fish are not the only victims of the crab pot death traps – the famous diamondback terrapin, a turtle species that is currently experiencing an alarming population decline rate, also is a common victim of being trapped by abandoned crab pots. One crab trap has even been found to contain 17 dead terrapins.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, as described in the video. Conserve Wildlife Foundation, supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Marine Debris Removal Program, is tackling the problem directly by finding and removing abandoned crab pots from the water. GPS grid and SONAR imagery from Stockton State University allows recovery teams to find exactly where the crab pots are located. Low-cost SONAR devices can even be used by well-trained fishermen to find their own crab pots merely days after losing them.

Over 1,300 abandoned crab traps were picked up by the program in Barnegat Bay over the past two winters. Ultimately, the metal used in the crab traps is either recycled or used to create energy by corporate partners Covanta and Schnitzer Steel.

“This is a true environmental success story because it addresses a serious ecological problem by creating ecological and economic benefits for the good of the greater Barnegat Bay community,” says CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “Thanks to local fishermen and volunteer students, removing these death traps has prevented countless at-risk diamondback terrapins and other species from drowning unnecessarily. It also has strengthened public safety by removing navigational hazards from the bay.”

In addition to NOAA’s support for the project, the video was made possible by funding from the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. Other project partners and supporters include the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science – Ocean County Vocational Technical School, Stockton University, Monmouth University, American Littoral Society, Covanta, and ReClam the Bay.

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