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Posts Tagged ‘National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’

Restoration Work Continues Along New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore, New Oyster Reef Built at Moores Beach

Saturday, April 9th, 2016
Second Annual “Shell-a-Bration” brings volunteers to strengthen coast’s resiliency and habitat

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

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Today, conservation organizations leading the efforts to restore New Jersey’s Delaware Bay beaches today organized the Second Annual “Shell-a-Bration” oyster reef building volunteer event.

 

Dedicated volunteers braved the elements and worked alongside American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to establish a near-shore whelk shell bar at Moores Beach in Maurice River Township along New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore. The shell bar was built to prevent sand loss from wind-driven waves. An approximately 200-foot oyster reef was constructed offshore to test whether the reef bars help reduce beach erosion and create calmer water for spawning horseshoe crabs.

 

“The Second Annual Shell-a-Bration truly celebrates the ecology, community, and culture of the Delaware Bayshore,” stated Captain Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Program Director, American Littoral Society. “It reinforces the connectivity between the natural and human-built bayshore communities through reef building and celebrates the significance of the Bay’s resources through restoration.”

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“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 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.”

 

Shorebirds, like the federally listed Red Knot, depend on an uninterrupted supply of horseshoe crab eggs when they stopover in Delaware Bay during their migration. In recent years, countless horseshoe crab eggs have been lost because of the devastating storms that swept away the beaches they depend on.

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The new oyster reef will attenuate waves but still allow for horseshoe crab breeding. In existing areas where crabs can breed without interruption, like creek mouths protected by sand shoals or rock jetties, egg densities can exceed ten times the egg densities on unprotected beaches.

 

“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. “Red Knots fly to New Jersey’s Delaware Bay from as far away as Tierra del Fuego in South America to feed on horseshoe crab eggs. Volunteer projects like the Shell-a-bration help connect the people of New Jersey with these endangered shorebirds and the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world.”

 

Last year, over 130 volunteers and veterans built the South Reeds Beach oyster at the First Annual Shell-a-Bration. Veterans Day on the Bay 2015 dedicated the South Reeds Beach oyster reef 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.” Guests also helped study the wildlife living in this new reef with hands-on, interactive marine science activities like seining, trapping, trawling, and species identification.

Our "assembly line" of volunteers all working together to build the reef.

Our “assembly line” of volunteers all working together to build the reef.

Veterans Reef and the Moores Beach Oyster Reef are two of the many projects that American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation are working on to restore the ecology and economy of the Delaware Bayshore.

 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Recovery Fund to remove 8,000 tons of debris and added 45,000 tons of sand to the beaches just before the annual spring arrival of the red knot in 2013.

 

Additional work after 2012 restored another mile of shoreline, including two new beaches of poor quality even before Sandy. To date, the groups have placed 85,000 cubic yards of sand and restored seven beaches along New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore. In early 2016, groups began another phase of restoration work at Cook’s Beach and Kimble’s Beach in anticipation of the return of the horseshoe crabs and red knots in May.

 

The projects are being funded by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through their Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grants Program, and are being developed in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Learn More:

 

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

Marine Debris Makes Conserve Wildlife Foundation ‘Crabby’

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
CWF leading the charge to provide free recycling and disposal of derelict fishing gear throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Abandoned crab pots unnecessarily trap fish and harm the marine ecosystem, according to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ. (Image: NOAA)

Abandoned crab pots unnecessarily trap fish and harm other marine life. Photo credit: NOAA

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is proud to collaborate with the Fishing for Energy partnership — an innovative public-private effort that provides commercial fishermen a no-cost solution to recycle old and unusable fishing gear — to recycle an estimated 26,000 pounds of derelict crab pots and other marine debris collected throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed as part of a removal project over the next two years. On Friday, we celebrated our new project with our Fishing for Energy partners at a press event in Waretown, New Jersey.

 

Abandoned or lost fishing equipment can threaten marine wildlife, like diamondback terrapins, in a number of ways, including by damaging ecosystems as nets and heavy equipment settle upon the ocean floor and through “ghost fishing,” wherein gear continues to catch fish and other wildlife even if abandoned or lost. Gear also can impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing and shipping enterprises and coastal communities.

 

In just six days, RJ Cericola and other local fishermen have collected over 160 abandoned crab pots!

Look at all the abandoned crab pots removed so far!

Look at all the abandoned crab pots removed so far!

 

“By recycling thousands of dangerous abandoned crab pots, our team is protecting vulnerable wildlife such as the diamondback terrapin, which inhabit the same shallow coastal waters in Barnegat Bay where pots are often lost or abandoned,” said Stephanie Egger, CWF wildlife biologist and principal investigator. “Terrapin population declines, reduced growth, and changes in sex ratios have been directly attributed to by-catch mortality in crab pots. We are so thrilled to work with local fishermen and all of our project partners, particularly the Fishing for Energy program, NOAA, and the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.”

 

This two-year marine debris removal project, led by CWF and supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, is working with local crabbers to locate and remove more than 1,000 derelict crab pots from Barnegat Bay. As part of this project, CWF is partnering with the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Monmouth University, Stockton University, ReClam the Bay, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (NJCWRP), and the recreational and commercial fishing community to identify, retrieve, and inventory derelict crab pots. The project is also conducting education and outreach activities on the impacts of derelict crab pots including the development of a lesson plan for schools, presentations for the community, developing informational print materials, and collaborating with the WeCrab education and outreach project led by the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve/Rutgers University and Stockton University.

MATES students collecting data on the derelict crab pots.

MATES students collecting data on the derelict crab pots.

 

“NJCWRP is proud to support this coalition of partners working on innovative projects to benefit the ecological quality of Barnegat Bay,” said Russell Furnari, chair, NJCWRP. “Removing thousands of these derelict crab pots not only enhances habitat, but also reduces navigational hazards, human health issues, and fishery impacts. We are thrilled to help provide outreach and educational campaigns to the local community, which will prevent additional lost pots and promote a deeper understanding of the bay’s habitat and wildlife.”

 

The Fishing for Energy partnership provided funds for the transportation and disposal of the gear found in Barnegat Bay through Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facility in Union County, New Jersey. At the Covanta site, any metal found on the debris will be recycled and the remainder of the traps converted into clean, renewable energy that will power area homes and businesses. The recycled materials will be processed and converted into enough energy to power 2,200 homes for a month!

From left to right: CWF's Stephanie Egger, Covanta's Meg Morris, NFWF's Courtney McGeachy, and Covanta's Kristin Blake.

From left to right: CWF’s Stephanie Egger, Covanta’s Meg Morris, NFWF’s Courtney McGeachy, and Covanta’s Kristin Blake.

 

Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the NOAA Marine Debris Program; Covanta, a New Jersey-headquartered sustainable waste and energy solutions company; and Schnitzer Steel Industries, one of the largest metal recycling companies in the United States. The partnership offers conveniently located collection bins for disposal of old fishing gear, making it easy for fishing communities – even small coastal communities like Waretown and Mantoloking – to deal with the issue of derelict gear. As a result, the partnership reduces the amount of gear that ends up in U.S. coastal waters and recycles and converts the remaining gear and debris into clean, renewable energy at Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facilities.

 

Making Headlines: News Coverage from the Press Event:

 

Learn More:

 

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

 

Oyster Reef in Delaware Bay Dedicated to New Jersey Veterans

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
“Veterans Day on the Bay” brings families, volunteers and veterans to South Reeds Beach on New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

by: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

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Conservation organizations leading the efforts to restore New Jersey’s Delaware Bay beaches today organized “Veterans Day on the Bay,” a celebration to dedicate the oyster reef at South Reeds Beach in honor of military veterans’ service to our country.

 

“We want to dedicate this work to our nation’s armed forces veterans to give them well deserved recognition for their service to all Americans,” stated Dr. Larry Niles, a biologist with American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey who has studied federally-listed Red Knots for three decades. “We also hope to give them an intimate experience of successful wildlife conservation to spark their interest and encourage them and their families to take part in future work.”

 

Veterans Day on the Bay dedicated the South Reeds Beach oyster reef 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.” Guests also helped study the wildlife living in this new reef with hands-on, interactive marine science activities like seining, trapping, trawling, and species identification.

 

“Delaware Bay has been so vital to this community for generations, and through this project we hope to strengthen the connections that young and old feel to this incredible natural resource that is home to wildlife of global importance,” said David Wheeler, Executive Director for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “The living construction of Veterans Reef is a small but meaningful embodiment of all that our military veterans have done in building a strong American defense to give us security and protect the many freedoms we hold dear.”

 

Volunteers and veterans worked alongside American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to establish a near-shore oyster reef at South Reeds Beach in Cape May Court House on the Delaware Bayshore in April 2015. The reef was built to prevent sand loss from wind-driven waves. Conservation groups will continue to monitor whether the reef bars help reduce beach erosion and create calmer water for spawning horseshoe crabs.

 

The South Reeds Beach Oyster Reef is one of the many projects that American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation are working on to restore the ecology and economy of the Delaware Bayshore.

 

“We are rebuilding habitats along Delaware Bay in order to strengthen the ecology, communities and economy of that area. Grants for the project enabled hiring several military veterans, and they continue to play a valuable role in the work. It is in recognition of the service veterans provide to their country and communities, that we are dedicating the reef at Reeds Beach to them,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director for American Littoral Society.

 

“Congratulations to the American Littoral Society, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, and the veterans who helped build this oyster reef,” said Amanda Bassow, Northeastern Regional Director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which helped fund the project in partnership with the Department of Interior. “This project will help Reeds Beach be more resilient to the impact of future storms, while also providing important habitat in Delaware Bay.”

 

Shorebirds, like the federally listed Red Knot, depend on an uninterrupted supply of horseshoe crab eggs when they stopover in Delaware Bay during their migration. In recent years, countless horseshoe crab eggs have been lost because of the devastating storms that swept away the beach habitat they depend on.

 

“Restoring beach habitat on the Delaware Bay benefits Red Knots because it provides important feeding habitat for a bird threatened with extinction. The restored beach and oyster reef also protects the local community by providing increased resilience to future storms. Projects like these that help fish and wildlife, in addition to supporting local communities, are a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” explained Eric Schrading, Field Supervisor for the New Jersey Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

The new oyster reef will attenuate waves but still allow for horseshoe crab breeding. In existing areas where crabs can breed without interruption, egg densities can exceed ten times the egg densities on unprotected beaches.

 

Projects like the South Reeds Beach oyster reef are being funded by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through their Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grants Program, and are being developed in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Learn More:

 

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

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Wrapping up the 2015 Piping Plover Chick Mortality Study

by Emily Heiser, Biological Assistant

Look closely - a piping plover egg showing signs of hatching.

Look closely – a piping plover egg showing signs of hatching.

The tail end of the breeding season always brings a mix of unsettled emotions. There is a German word that perfectly describes this feeling, zugunhrue. It’s a compound word: ‘Zug’, describes movement or migration and ‘Unhrue’, describes anxiety or restlessness. You can almost see this feeling dripping off of the birds as they move around, fighting over the best foraging spots to bulk up and snuggling up to one another in the perfect roosting spot. They rely on weather cues and dwindling daylight to determine the best time to depart. To some extent, we find ourselves doing the same. It is a significant changing of the seasons as summer fades into fall for the beach nesting bird staff. We pack up the equipment, take down fencing, polish data and shift mindsets from breeding to migration.

Michelle Stantial of SUNY-ESF and Emily Heiser of CWF after their last successful chick capture of the 2015 field season (Photo courtesy of Northside Jim)

Michelle Stantial of SUNY-ESF and Emily Heiser of CWF after their last successful chick capture of the 2015 field season (Photo courtesy of Northside Jim)

Michelle Stantial, of the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry departed on her own migration last week, wrapping up the 2015 piping plover chick mortality study. Michelle and I had a whirlwind summer of traversing the coast, trapping birds, collecting data and finding time to sleep somewhere in between. Ironically, New Jersey bolstered one of its better productivity seasons in years during the chick mortality study! Overall, the study was a resounding success. We worked with wonderful partners to achieve optimal results and hope to move ahead with future seasons. In total, we collected information from 29 breeding pairs of piping plovers and 62 of their chicks, deployed nine nest cameras and hiked many miles of beach looking for predator signs.

CWF beach nesting bird crew at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge release piping plover chicks after being weighed and measured.

CWF beach nesting bird crew at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge release piping plover chicks after being weighed and measured.

This season had all sorts of surprises waiting for us. While we took our losses hard, we celebrated our victories even harder. The information from the nest cameras was vital in our efforts to identify predators and in sourcing the issues that piping plovers face here in New Jersey. We watched fox, crow, gull and mink eat nests and it broke our hearts along the way. On the other hand, we watched how determined these birds were in sitting on their nests through downpours, lightning storms, high winds and tides. We had not one, but TWO double clutches this season. A double clutch is a rare event in a piping plover’s life cycle and has been documented sparingly over the years along the entire Atlantic Coast. The two pairs that double clutched laid their first nests, successfully reared their chicks to fledge and then laid another nest, ultimately fledging those chicks as well! It was a true delight to watch all four of these broods succeed this season.

 

As the weeks pass, the number of migrating piping plovers slowly dwindles and our seasonal staff departs for new adventures. It is always a bit sad to watch them leave, but it is reassuring to know we have made life long friendships and that the birds will undoubtedly be back next season! We only have to get through the doldrums of winter. Enjoy the fall and good luck on migration, our fine-feathered friends!

 

Learn more:

 

Emily Heiser is a Biological Assistant for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

The Pitter-Patter of Tiny Plover Feet!

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
An update on the 2015 Piping Plover Chick Mortality study

By: Emily Heiser, Biological Assistant

 

Summer is once again flying by and we find ourselves more than halfway through the beach nesting bird season. New Jersey’s piping plovers are almost done incubating their nests and most already have chicks running around!

 

Two and a half week old piping plover chick, in hand for mid development "check-up" on weight and wing growth.

Two and a half week old piping plover chick, in hand for mid development “check-up” on weight and wing growth.

I would argue that there is nothing cuter than a piping plover chick. Covered in downy feathers, they simply look like little cotton balls with toothpicks for legs. Piping plover chicks are precocial, which means they hatch in an advanced state and are able to feed themselves almost immediately. The adults stay with their young to protect them from predators until they are able to fly, which takes about 25-35 days.

 

New Jersey plovers have a very difficult time getting their chicks to that 25-day mark. Unfortunately, chicks perish for various reasons. Determining the causes of chick loss in is the main driver behind the New Jersey piping plover chick mortality study being conducted by the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry this year.

 

Just hatched piping plover chicks sporting their color bands, which will help researchers track them.

Just hatched piping plover chicks sporting their color bands, which will help researchers track them.

 

 

 

 

Michelle Stantial and I have been visiting sites up and down the coast to check on the status of the study broods. To date, we have been able to band 46 chicks from 14 different broods.

 

The small color bands that we place on the upper legs of the chicks help us to identify each chick as an individual and also helps us know which individual was lost. Every five to seven days we recapture the chicks to weigh and measure them. We hope to correlate chick growth to habitat quality and likelihood of survival. Some exciting preliminary observations have already been made between the sites!

 

Plover chicks all hatch at around the same weight. During incubation, the embryo gets all of its food from an egg sac. The chicks weigh around six to seven grams when they hatch. Over the next five days, growth rates begin to spike.

CWF Biological Assistant Emily Heiser places newly hatched piping plover chicks back into nest bowl after banding.

CWF Biological Assistant Emily Heiser places newly hatched piping plover chicks back into nest bowl after banding.

 

By simply looking at some of the chick weights, you can determine where foraging quality is likely going to be greatest. Lower weights could also be attributed to human disturbance levels. Chicks disturbed on a regular basis, may not be able to spend as much time foraging as chicks that are not disturbed as often.

 

One of the true highlights of this season has been overseeing so many chicks across all of our study sites! Twenty-seven of our study chicks have made it to fledge so far. There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching them spread their wings for the first time. It never ceases to bring a smile to my face as their tiny feet pitter-patter across the sand (and my heart), their perfect wings open up, and suddenly…lift off!

 

There is still some time left in the season for some more tiny miracles to happen on our beaches, so keep your fingers crossed and send them lots of luck as they finish up their breeding season here in New Jersey!

 

Learn more:

 

Emily Heiser is the Biological Assistant for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.