Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘migration’

New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – Strengthening Bayshore Beaches

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

NEW JERSEY’S HIDDEN COAST – EPISODE 5

By Emily Hofmann, Assistant Communications Manager

 

Like all ecosystems, Delaware Bay is amazingly complex, and there’s no one way to fix it. Between climate change, sea level rise, and the growing risk of major storms, there’s a lot to consider.

 

We’ve learned that restoring healthy marsh habitat is a key component in rebuilding Delaware Bay beaches; however, we’re also trying to further strengthen bayshore beaches by building reefs – living underwater infrastructure. By creating some reef structures we can keep the sand where we’re putting it.

 

Learn more about strengthening New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – the Delaware Bayshore in our fifth episode to our series.

 

A new episode of our video series “New Jersey’s Hidden Coast” will air every two weeks throughout the summer! Catch a glimpse of the bay, the horseshoe crab at the center of the bay’s system, and the incredible relationship between horseshoe crabs and migratory birds, like the red knot. We will reveal the real value of horseshoe crabs, the challenges to the ecosystem, and the potential for a thriving regional economy along the Bayshore. We will show Hurricane Sandy as a catalyst for decisive action and the work being done to rebuild the area for both people and wildlife.

 

Over the next several weeks, we will explore the use of “living shorelines” instead of bulkheads and the central importance of marshes to the marine ecosystem. We will discover the on-the-ground, grassroots efforts of the community to build oyster reefs alongside veterans. And we will examine the future of the Bay and the work that needs to be done to preserve our conservation successes thus far.

 

Discover Delaware Bay:

 

New Jersey’s Hidden Coast — After the Storm

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
New Jersey’s Hidden Coast — Episode 3

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

At 8:00 PM on October 29th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Brigantine, New Jersey, only about 30 miles from New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – the Delaware Bayshore. The storm was devastating for the people of the area, many of whom lost their homes and livelihoods. It was equally hard on the area’s wildlife, bringing many species, including the famous horseshoe crab and red knot, perilously close to extinction.

 

What happened? Watch the story unfold in the third episode of our video series.

 

A new episode of our video series “New Jersey’s Hidden Coast” will air every two weeks throughout the summer! Catch a glimpse of the bay, the horseshoe crab at the center of the bay’s system, and the incredible relationship between horseshoe crabs and migratory birds, like the red knot. We will reveal the real value of horseshoe crabs, the challenges to the ecosystem, and the potential for a thriving regional economy along the Bayshore. We will show Hurricane Sandy as a catalyst for decisive action and the work being done to rebuild the area for both people and wildlife.

 

Over the next several weeks, we will explore the use of “living shorelines” instead of bulkheads and the central importance of marshes to the marine ecosystem. We will discover the on-the-ground, grassroots efforts of the community to build oyster reefs alongside veterans. And we will examine the future of the Bay and the work that needs to be done to preserve our conservation successes thus far.

 

Discover Delaware Bay:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

The Real Value of Horseshoe Crabs

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – Episode 2

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager


Horseshoe crabs may be one of the most unusual animals in the world, but they’re also one of the most extraordinary. They’ve been around for hundreds of millions of years, and we’re only now starting to understand just how important they are – not just to the natural world, but also to the world of medicine. Discover the real value of horseshoe crabs, found throughout New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – the Delaware Bayshore.

 

A new episode of our video series “New Jersey’s Hidden Coast” will air every two weeks throughout the summer! Catch a glimpse of the bay, the horseshoe crab at the center of the bay’s system, and the incredible relationship between horseshoe crabs and migratory birds, like the red knot. We will reveal the real value of horseshoe crabs, the challenges to the ecosystem, and the potential for a thriving regional economy along the Bayshore. We will show Hurricane Sandy as a catalyst for decisive action and the work being done to rebuild the area for both people and wildlife.

 

Over the next several weeks, we will explore the use of “living shorelines” instead of bulkheads and the central importance of marshes to the marine ecosystem. We will discover the on-the-ground, grassroots efforts of the community to build oyster reefs alongside veterans. And we will examine the future of the Bay and the work that needs to be done to preserve our conservation successes thus far.

 

Discover Delaware Bay:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Hidden Coast

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
Discover New Jersey’s Hidden Coast – the Delaware Bayshore

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager


Making your plans for Memorial Day Weekend at the Jersey Shore? Discover New Jersey’s “other” coastline, a Hidden Coast, the Delaware Bayshore.

 

A new episode of our video series “New Jersey’s Hidden Coast” will air every two weeks throughout the summer! Catch a glimpse of the bay, the horseshoe crab at the center of the bay’s system, and the incredible relationship between horseshoe crabs and migratory birds, like the red knot. We will reveal the real value of horseshoe crabs, the challenges to the ecosystem, and the potential for a thriving regional economy along the Bayshore. We will show Hurricane Sandy as a catalyst for decisive action and the work being done to rebuild the area for both people and wildlife.

 

Over the next several weeks, we will explore the use of “living shorelines” instead of bulkheads and the central importance of marshes to the marine ecosystem. We will discover the on-the-ground, grassroots efforts of the community to build oyster reefs alongside veterans. And we will examine the future of the Bay and the work that needs to be done to preserve our conservation successes thus far.

 

Discover Delaware Bay:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Creek Mouth Shoals Provide Key Habitat During a Cold May

Monday, May 23rd, 2016
One of a Series of Updates on the 20th Year of the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project

by Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC

In spite of the very spotty horseshoe crab spawn, the shorebirds on Delaware Bay seem to be gaining weight on schedule. Below you will find a graph composed of the average weights of all the red knots by our team for the last 20 years. The curve is the result of combining all the data we collected and shows the sweet spot for most knots. As they arrive, they take time to gain weight but after about 5 days they start gaining weight rapidly. After the 26th or so, birds start reaching the critical weights necessary to safely reach the Arctic breeding grounds. One can see the curve deep at the end of the month because fat birds fly off leaving the less fat behind. In general, weights above the line are good, below the line not good. The large squares on the graph are the average weight of this year. So far, so good.

Average Red knot weights from catches made in 1997 to 2016. The most recent are the big squares. So far average weights are following normal pattern of weight gain.

Average Red knot weights from catches made in 1997 to 2016. The most recent are the big squares. So far average weights are following normal pattern of weight gain.

Cannon net firing over red knots on Delaware Bay

Cannon net firing over red knots on Delaware Bay

This is a bit of a surprise for the team. The weather here on Delaware Bay is wet and cold. The water temperature struggles to lift above 59 degrees, the temperature necessary for a crab to spawn on Delaware Bay. So far, the temperature has been below 59 degrees more than above. We had good spawns in the last few days, but only in key places.

Water temperature at the mouth of Delaware Bay.

Water temperature at the mouth of Delaware Bay.

A key place for horseshoe crab spawn happens to be the mouths of small creeks. The New Jersey side of Delaware Bay is blessed with many small intertidal creeks, most draining only marsh or small inland watersheds. Some of these creeks have names, Goshen Creek, West Creek, Nantuxent Creek, but many do not. Almost all have shoals at their mouth with the bay because bay currents, tidal flow and wind driven waves act against each other to settle sand coming from adjacent beaches or from inside the creek drainage. Much of the sand lost from our restored beaches settles into these shoals. For horseshoe crabs, these shoals are sweet places.

A sandy shoal at the mouth of the nameless creek between Reeds and Cooks Beach. At the time of this picture, over 3,000 knots and 1,000 ruddy turnstones were using the shoal and the inner sandy beach behind the shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

A sandy shoal at the mouth of the nameless creek between Reeds and Cooks Beach. At the time of this picture, over 3,000 knots and 1,000 ruddy turnstones were using the shoal and the inner sandy beach behind the shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots in flight on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots in flight on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Red Knots on Cooks Shoal. Photo by Stephanie Feigin.

Usually, the shoals lie just under the high tide line and are composed of large grain sand, the optimal conditions for a good crab spawn. However, the most important characteristic and key to this unusually cold May, is the warming water flowing out from the marsh drainages. On a flooding tide, colder warmer flows into the vast marshes of the Delaware Bay. This warms the water. On an ebbing tide, it flows out the creek and over the shoals, making them slightly warmer and more conducive to inducing crabs to spawn. Even on these cold days, they literally climb over themselves to breed on the shoals. The shoals also protect the inner mouths of the creeks thus making the sandy shores at the mouth of the creek a crab spawning heaven.

Breeding horseshoe crabs. Photo by Jan van der Kam.

Breeding horseshoe crabs. Photo by Jan van der Kam.

However, as it seems usual with this blog, there is a growing concern. Right now, most of the red knot population on the bay is feeding on these shoals along with thousands of other species, but only half have arrived from southern wintering areas. We now have about 12,000 red knots on the bay and in a day or two we should find another 12,000 falling from the sky. Will there be enough eggs? Will the water temperature finally reach normal levels? These are the important question for the next few days.

 

Learn More:

 

Dr. Larry Niles has led efforts to protect red knots and horseshoe crabs for over 30 years.