Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

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.

Giving Thanks!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Don DeRogatis volunteered to help us safely climb a 130' water tower at Bayside State Prison this summer. His reward was holding this nestling peregrine falcon, which will one day be flying at speeds upwards of 200mph! Thanks, Don!! © Ben Wurst

Don DeRogatis volunteered to help us safely climb a 130′ water tower at Bayside State Prison this summer. He was rewarded by holding this peregrine falcon nestling as we banded it for future tracking. Being able to say to you held the world’s fastest bird is definitely something to brag about! Thanks, Don!! © Ben Wurst

The success of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ to manage and protect our rare wildlife depends greatly on our dedicated volunteers. Our volunteers construct and maintain osprey nesting platforms, perform road patrols to reduce terrapin road kills, count bats, install fencing to protect beach nesting birds, protect beaches for critically endangered shorebirds, and help amphibians cross roads safely on rainy nights. They also dedicate much time to watching bald eagle nests with the Bald Eagle Project. This past year they spent an amazing 3,500 hours monitoring eagle nests throughout the state of New Jersey!!  We wouldn’t be able to work with as many different species and accomplish all that we do without help from these dedicated volunteers. We’d also like to thank all of our members and donors for helping us complete our mission of “Keeping New Jersey’s Wildlife in our Future.”

From all of the staff at CWF, we hope you have a great Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season!

Photo from the field

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Volunteers provide safe nest site for ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Volunteers who helped to install the first platform for ospreys in 2014! © Ben Wurst

Volunteers who helped to install the first platform for ospreys in 2014! © Ben Wurst

Today nine volunteers assisted with the installation of this nesting platform inside Great Bay Blvd. Wildlife Management Area. The platform was built during last year’s Sandy relief effort and was several “extra” platforms that were built using donated materials. It’s being used to replace an existing nest that is too close to disturbance and prone to predation. The new platform is far from disturbance, gives them protection from predators, but is close enough to the road for wildlife photographers and birders to observe them at a safe distance. You can report nesting activity for this new nest platform on Osprey Watch.

Photo(s) from the field

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Volunteers help to “re-plant” leaning osprey platform

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

This past week I was joined by a large group of volunteers to remove and re-plant a leaning osprey tower in Point Pleasant. It all began after Superstorm Sandy barreled through the area a little over a year ago…

This nest, along with many others, were uprooted from where they were originally installed. Many homes in the area were flooded by the storm surge associated with the storm (and many were still rebuilding when we were there). Any and all debris that was created ended up being pushed to the high areas of the marsh and in turn, people’s yards. This platform ended up in a homeowners backyard. Fortunately the platform was not lost and was thankfully re-installed by a bulkheading company who was working on the homeowners house. This was great news for the ospreys! Their nest had been returned to the saltmarsh and was, in turn, used again by them this past summer. They raised one nestling on the platform.

Things a-drift…a strong Nor’easter ended up pushing over the platform, which caused it to lean…significantly. However, the ospreys adapted and added nesting material to make sure their only nestling would not fall out. At the same time we made plans to re-plant the platform in a section of marsh with more soil, so the platform would have a firm foundation and support. A crew of strong and able volunteers met up with me to help fix the problem. They pulled out the platform and then we transported it to the new location. There we dug a new hole (around 2-3′ deep) and they easily dropped the short (around 12′ high) platform into the hole. These volunteers did a great job, and I was happy to see that many of them lived in the local area. It’s great to see locals getting involved in their local environment and I know that they’ll continue to watch over the nest if anything should happen to it in the future. I’m planning on working with the local community association (who owns the land) to install a couple more platforms for ospreys. There’s little suitable nesting habitat for ospreys up on N. Barnegat Bay and in the past we’ve had problems with birds nesting on houses, so this will only help reduce those occurrences.

Not exactly stable...

Not exactly stable…

Not much dry land either...

Not much dry land either…

Down she goes...

Down she goes…

All better!

All better!

Photo(s) from the Field

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Volunteers help build new osprey platforms

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

On January 19th more than 30 volunteers showed up to help us build 20 osprey nesting platforms. The platforms will be used to replace or repair any that were damaged from Superstorm Sandy. We already have six that sustained damage from the storm and are making arrangements to replace them before the nesting season begins in early April.

We’d like to thank all the volunteers who helped out and all the donors who purchased the materials for the build day! Without your support this project would not be a success: Tri-County Building Supplies in Pleasantville, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Home Depot of Manahawkin, Brian Kushner and Oyster Creek Generating Station in Forked River, THANKS!!