Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Survey of Beach Litter Finds Many Threats to Nesting Birds

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

by Mary Emich

Plover chick next to a seabeach amaranth plant. Photo by Alice Brennan.

Despite hundreds of trash bins conveniently located on the beach, litter is still found in the sand every day. Many people enjoy their summer days at a key beach nesting bird site in Sea Girt. Beach goers leave behind trash that litters the crucial environment. These include plastic bottles, bags, cans, wrappers, straws, fishing line, etc. Plastic pollution effects the surrounding environment and wildlife that inhabits it.

At the Sea Girt beach, piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), an endangered beach nesting bird species, travels hundreds of miles to breed and nest during the summertime. This species is directly affected by the amount of litter that pollutes the beach. Every year shore birds, and many other species, ingest plastic or get entangled in fishing line which lessens their chance of survival.

Seabeach Amaranth. Photo by Meghan Kolk.

Another significant endangered species located at Sea Girt beach is seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus). This annual plant needs a healthy ecosystem free of debris to thrive every season. It is important to maintain a strong coastal habit for reproduction and population growth.

Twenty weeks of litter was collected at the Sea Girt beach with approximately 200 plastic straws, 50 plastic bags, 75 bottles, and 25 pieces of fishing line. Pollution on the beach can be prevented if patrons are mindful of properly disposing their trash at the end of their trip.

20 weeks worth of beach trash recovered from the Sea Girt beach.

Mary Emich is an assistant biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

by Milena Bimpong

This story marks Part 4 of CWF’s series about COVID-19’s impacts on nature in New Jersey and beyond. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 can be found here, and Part 3 can be found here. CWF Executive Director David Wheeler discussed COVID-19 and wildlife on our podcast, State of Change, which can be found here.

Less Air Pollution & More Plastic Pollution

A discarded mask drifts in the tide. Mark Makela/Getty Images

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected human lives in many different ways. However, the pandemic has been impacting our environment and nature as well. For example, air pollution decreased when people started staying inside due to lockdown restrictions, which is beneficial towards wildlife. However, there have been negative impacts as well. The amount of debris in marine ecosystems has increased due to improper disposal of face masks. What will the future for wildlife species in New Jersey look like amid the pandemic?

One temporary positive impact that the pandemic has had on the environment is reduced carbon dioxide emissions. According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, global carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 17% from 2019 to early April 2020. Although this won’t last once we return to pre-pandemic conditions, reduced carbon dioxide emissions is great for wildlife. Since too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has amplified the effects of climate change, this has threatened the habitats of many wildlife species. If reduced carbon dioxide emissions were to occur long-term, it would be able to have a larger impact on wildlife habitats. 


Documenting the presence of plastics in osprey nests

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
The threats are real and these photos should alarm you!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

U.S. Coast Guard assists NJ Fish & Wildlife with recovering an entangled osprey on a channel marker in Cape May Harbor, Summer 2018. photo by Kathy Clark/ENSP

As I work to finalize data from this summer’s osprey surveys, I wanted to look back and highlight an important observation: more plastic is being found and recovered from active osprey nests. I guess it’s no surprise when you hear that “18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions.(more…)