Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fish’

Brood Reduction: New Jersey Osprey Cams Shine Light on Prey Availability

Tuesday, July 18th, 2023

by Ben Wurst, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Depending on where you look and who you talk to, the fate of many osprey nests might bring tears to your eyes. Since a nor’easter impacted the coast with strong onshore winds for several days, young ospreys have been dying of starvation in plain sight. Over the past week, several reports of adults who abandoned their nests with young have been received. This year, weather has impacted the availability of fish and outcomes of nests in the Garden State.


Help Ensure Ospreys Have a Future in New Jersey

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

ACTION ALERT: Support ecological management of the most valuable public resource for our coastal ecosystem and economy

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Menhaden is a common food source for ospreys during their nesting season in New Jersey. Photo by Northside Jim.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is accepting public comment on the establishment of ecological management of Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), which is a keystone species. Basically, a keystone species is one that plays a large role in the ecosystem where it lives. If a keystone species is lost then the ecosystem would dramatically change or cease to function, causing widespread effects to other species that benefit. In New Jersey, ospreys have largely benefited from a healthy menhaden population as we’ve had relatively high reproductive rates (more than double what’s needed to sustain population) over the past decade. From 2006 to 2016, the population has grown by 30% and above the pre-DDT, historic milestone of over 500 nesting pairs. Around 82% of the state population of ospreys nests along the Atlantic Coast and we observe menhaden at a huge number of nests during our mid-summer surveys. If menhaden numbers drop, then we will likely see osprey numbers follow suite, as reproductive rates will decline, as they are in the Chesapeake Bay.


Shark & Ray Conservation Week (Part 1 of a 6-part series)

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

This story marks the first of six blog stories spotlighting New Jersey’s shark species – and educating people about why shark populations are in danger throughout the world.


By Michael Davenport, Wildlife Biologist & GIS Manager

Sharks, rays, and skates are cartilaginous fish within the subclass Elasmobranchii. Elasmobranchs predate the dinosaurs by hundreds of millions years, having first appeared in the fossil record during the Devonian Period approximately 400 million years ago. They are a very diverse group, with over 350 species of sharks and over 500 species of rays and skates currently existing worldwide.

A sand tiger shark. Photo courtesy of Gerald Walters & Jenkinson's Aquarium.

A sand tiger shark. Photo courtesy of Gerald Walters & Jenkinson’s Aquarium.

Sharks and rays are highly specialized and occupy a wide variety of habitats. Some species are slow-moving bottom feeders which prey on crustaceans while others are fast-swimming predators of marine mammals. Many shark and ray species are apex predators, at the top of many food chains. They play a critical function within the marine (and occasionally freshwater) ecosystem preying on the weak, sick, or injured and maintaining a balance within their environment.

Sharks and rays are frequently misunderstood and feared as a result. Sharks have been portrayed in movies as man-eating monsters which target humans as a meal. Rays are also feared due to their appearance and because many species do, in fact, carry defensive barbs on their tail which have been known to injure or even kill people.

Because of their bad reputation, sharks are often targeted by recreational fishermen as trophy catches. However, the greatest threat to sharks and rays comes from commercial fishing for several reasons: (1) directed fishing for sharks, especially for their fins; (2) capture as bycatch during other fishing activities; and (3) overfishing of prey species.

Degradation of habitat is another threat to sharks and rays. Many species give birth within inshore coastal waters and those same areas are a nursery for the young. Pollution and/or development of those areas represent a threat to those species during a critical stage of their life. Climate change and its impact on food resources of sharks and rays is another potential major threat to sharks and rays which is poorly understood at this time.

Due to the biology of sharks and rays, these many threats are worsened by the fact that fewer individuals are replaced than are killed. Sharks and rays are generally long-lived species which don’t reach sexual maturity often until they’re in their teens or older. Then, they may give birth to as few as two young every two or three years.

Follow our blog posts throughout the week to learn more about some of the shark species which occur in New Jersey waters.


New Jersey’s Status Review of Freshwater Fish

Monday, March 21st, 2016

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has recently completed a status review of the freshwater fish species within the state. A total of 53 species were reviewed by a panel of experts and the results of that review were then presented to the Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee which voted  on March 16th to recommend the status changes. As a result of this status review, ten additional species within the state will be receiving an imperiled status of either Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern. The date for when those listings will become official is still unknown.

Black-banded sunfish. © Shawn Crouse

Black-banded sunfish. © Shawn Crouse

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s online field guide, a one-of-a-kind free reference focused on New Jersey’s wildlife, has expanded to include the additional fish species.

To learn more about these fish species and the threats facing them, please click below to link to our field guide: