Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Raritan Bay’

Calling all Osprey Lovers!

Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Citizen Scientists Needed to help collect data on nesting ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Two young ospreys and an adult on a nest in Ocean County.

This year we are hoping to get a better estimate of the size and health of the osprey population in New Jersey. Up from only 50 pairs in the early 1970s to an estimated 600+ pairs today. Ospreys are an indicator species and as top tier predators, they show the effects of contaminants in the environment before many other long lived species. They are our new age “canary in the coal mine” so keeping tabs on the health of their population is key to assessing the health of our estuarine and marine ecosystems. (more…)

Kids are Back in School – but Their Summer Wildlife Lessons Endure!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation brought three conservation-themed summer learning experiences to the New Jersey coast.

By: Kendall Miller

I went back to “camp” this summer, seeing schoolkids learn first-hand about wildlife and what biologists do. CWF offered three summer learning experiences for the first time, each with a different theme, content, and location.

Observing the kids’ excitement and enthusiasm for nature was uplifting, and I was also impressed with how knowledgeable they all were. Offering hands-on opportunities – to learn about wildlife while experiencing these habitats – is so important in fostering an appreciation in the younger generations.

“Education is a major goal of CWF’s mission. Through project-based, experiential learning, we hope that camps like these leave impressions with children,” said CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, who developed the new program. “While we are out having fun, we are also learning about the importance of protecting and preserving wildlife and their habitats in New Jersey.”

This summer was a great start, and CWF is excited for the years to come!

Bayshore Adventure at Leonardo Marina
Seining, special wildlife guests and sandcastles along the Raritan Bayshore!

Located in the harbor, across from Sandy Hook, noisy terns and gulls fight over their catches as kids arrive in the morning to spend the part of their day learning about the bayshore environment. Sunny, sand-filled learning about marine and coastal wildlife and habitats, seining for coastal creatures, mini-science activities and special guests were balanced with a healthy dose of wiffleball games and sandcastle-building contests.

Kids met biologist and beach nesting bird manager Todd Pover. He talked about - of course - the piping plover, and issues with conserving threatened and endangered beach nesting birds.

Kids met biologist and beach nesting bird manager Todd Pover. He talked about – of course – the piping plover, and issues with conserving threatened and endangered beach nesting birds.

NJ State Park police officer Karl Mott and K9 Kelly, a police dog who finds lost cellphones, wallets, and even people. Campers were able to see her in action and participate in hiding drills.

NJ State Park police officer Karl Mott and K9 Kelly, a police dog who finds lost cellphones, wallets, and even people. Campers were able to see her in action and participate in hiding drills.

Wildlife Explorer Program at Duke Farms
Raptors, art and orchids on a North Jersey nature oasis!

Set in the lovely Duke Farms in Hillsborough, every day of this week-long camp was a new and exciting experience featuring different types of wildlife! Kids spent time exploring the grounds at Duke, played games and explored their creativity through art projects alongside famed artist James Fiorentino, met real life biologists and best of all – got up close and personal with all kinds of raptors (like the red-tailed hawk below), amphibians and reptiles. These memorable experiences will hopefully cement in their minds the importance of being stewards to their environment.

Campers explored the Orchid Range and saw a collection of plants from all over the world.

Campers explored the Orchid Range and saw a collection of plants from all over the world.

Bill Streeter of Delaware Valley Raptor Center visited to talk about amazing birds of prey, bringing with him their resident educational birds. Campers sat in awe of these raptors like this red-tailed hawk.

Bill Streeter of Delaware Valley Raptor Center visited to talk about amazing birds of prey, bringing with him their resident educational birds. Campers sat in awe of these raptors like this red-tailed hawk.

Beach.Birds.Biology
A day afield with a beach nesting birds biologist!

Shorebird biologists know the importance of educating people about the plight of beach nesting birds in New Jersey, who rely on the beaches that people flock to in the summertime. So on three different occasions, parents signed their kids up to spend a day on the beach learning about these birds with CWF biologist, Emily Heiser – like the piping plover, American oystercatcher, black skimmer and least tern. Kids got to practice being wildlife biologists. They used spotting scopes to read tags on decoy birds and searched for camouflaged eggs in the sand. The day was also filled with games, beach scavenger hunts, and a fun poster drawing project to be put on display.

Campers spot some plovers and oystercatchers feeding in vernal pools along the inlet at Barnegat Light.

Campers spot some plovers and oystercatchers feeding in vernal pools along the inlet at Barnegat Light.

After learning about the plight of beach nesting birds, the kids got creative by drawing signs to be posted near nesting and feeding sites.

After learning about the plight of beach nesting birds, the kids got creative by drawing signs to be posted near nesting and feeding sites.


For more information about these educational programs, please visit our website at www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org , or contact our  Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio at (609) 292-9451.


Kendall Miller is a Program Coordinator at Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

Horseshoe Crab Tagging and Monitoring in Raritan/Sandy Hook Bay

Friday, May 1st, 2015
Bayshore Regional Watershed Council Looking for Volunteers to Help Out Four Nights in May and June

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Photo by: Joe Reynolds

Photo by: Joe Reynolds

The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council (BRWC) is looking for volunteers to help monitor and tag horseshoe crabs in Sandy Hook and Raritan Bay this May and June. Since 2009, BRWC has been collecting hard data through their volunteer-driven monitoring and tagging program. This data is used to help analyze the population of horseshoe crabs in the region and better inform conservation efforts to protect them.

 

Lately on the Bayshore, the Council has seen a ratio of about 35 males per 1 female, which is a cause for concern. Why are there so few females? How will the population continue to survive in the region with such a low number of mature, female horseshoe crabs?

 

BRWC investigated the issue and found that New York State is harvesting about 100,000 horseshoe crabs a year from the Harbor. Female horseshoe crabs are frequently harvested because their eggs are used as bait for fishermen. Horseshoe crab numbers have dropped dramatically in New York area waters, BRWC thinks in part because of the harvest. According to the Council’s website, over the last 150 years, horseshoe crab populations have declined 90%. What can concerned citizens do to help protect the current population of horseshoe crabs in Sandy Hook/Raritan Bay from further decline?

 

Volunteering with Bayshore Regional Watershed Council is a great place to start. Volunteers monitor and tag horseshoe crabs on four nights (alligned with the new and full moon and the tides) through May and June on Sandy Hook/Raritan Bay. The volunteers record clusters, single females, single males, swimming pairs, and other data points on tally sheets at five different locations on the Bayshore. The recordings function as a sampling of the population; volunteers monitor an area of 1,000 feet by 6 feet on the beach. BRWC volunteers can see anywhere from 10-125 horseshoe crabs a night, depending on the site.

 

Adult horseshoe crabs are also tagged. The tag displays a New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife phone number that can be called if the horseshoe crab is seen again. These tags and calls by the general public help biologists to better understand horseshoe crab behavior and where they go when they are not spawning. BRWC suspects that older horseshoe crabs return to the ocean out past the continental shelf, while younger horseshoe crabs stay in the bay. Volunteering will help the Council collect more data to analyze these observations and trends.

 

Take action to help protect these over 250 million year old creatures:

Bayshore Regional Watershed Council is recruiting volunteers at:

  • Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen Township
  • Conaskonck Point in Union Beach
  • Leonardo Public Beach in Middletown Township
  • The mouth of Many Mind Creek in Atlantic Highlands
  • Plum Island at Sandy Hook National Recreation Area

Dates and times for the 2015 monitoring program are:

  • Monday, May 4, 2015 at 8:30pm
  • Monday, May 18, 2015 at 8:30pm
  • Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 8:30pm
  • Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 8:30pm

For more information, visit Bayshore Regional Watershed Council’s website.

 

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

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