By Juliann Fiorentino, CWF Intern
Kayaking at Sedge Island (c) Stephanie Feigin
With the sun shining, everyone set out on a beautiful short boat ride from Island Beach State Park in Seaside, New Jersey to Sedge Island, a small island in the brackish waters (a mixture of salt and fresh water) of Barnegat Bay. There, the winners, proud parents and teachers from the Species on the Edge Art and Essay Contest learned about the island and the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center. After the tour of the house and island, the group set off on a fascinating two hour-long kayak journey into the bay.
After paddling through a very narrow water channel, the group stopped at the first man-made Peregrine Falcon nest in New Jersey. This nest was the first hacking site for the once critically endangered Peregrine Falcons, ultimately leading to the rise Peregrine Falcon population in the late 1970’s. Hacking is an old falconer’s term for a process that provides captive-bred youngsters with a sheltered experience, giving them the advantage of a “soft release” into the wild.
The group getting ready to Kayak (c) Stephanie Feigin
As the group paddled on, we traveled through the different areas of the bay including the grassy areas where we learned about the different grasses that could grow in this brackish water, and which ones were edible.
Next we reached an area referred to as the Bahamas because of its shallow clear, calm water. We all got out of our kayaks and walked around to search for animals and plants on the sandy floor. We could see hundreds of fish, mud snails, and sea hermit crabs. Even a green crab made an appearance and the Sedge tour guide lifted him up from under the water to teach everyone about its unique body.
Clamming in the Bay (c) Stephanie Feigin
After returning to the island, the group then got to experience the thrill of clamming in the bay, and learned about the efforts of the biologists on Sedge Island to protect the Diamondback Terrapin population that breeds on the island. This was my first time at Sedge Island, along with many others. It was very interesting to learn about the history of this island, and the many wildlife species that inhabit the area. The trip to Sedge Island was a wonderfully breath taking experience – an experience I will never forget.