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Delaware Bay

Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

New Beaches Are Shared By Fishermen And Shorebirds Alike

Both construction teams work hard to get done as soon as is possible. Both are on track to be done late this week, in good time for the horseshoe crab spawn and shorebird stopover. Last Thursday, the water temperature hovers around 9 degrees C (48 degrees F) which is slightly lower than previous years. The crab spawn is in part triggered by a water temperature of 14-15 degree C (59 degrees F) so the spawn is still a few weeks away. Last year, it began in the first week of May. Getting done on time depends on no emerging problems, and working out…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation

Sand and Spring on the Delaware Bayshore

The movement of sand on the Delaware Bay remains a mystery to coastal geologists. Unlike the Atlantic coast, where currents create a longshore drift which pushes sand generally southward, Delaware bay sand moves at the whim of both bay and creek currents and prevailing winds. The sand on any beach can move differently than adjacent beaches and sometimes in different directions on the same beach. This is what Steve Hafner of Stockton University suspects will happen with the sand at Fortescue. A small point made by the bending road, divides the beach and may determine if sand moves to the north towards the…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, wildlife conservation

Oyster Reef Construction and Steady Progress on Delaware Bay Beaches

We constructed our first oyster reef on Delaware Bay as part of the weekend’s “Shell-a-Bration.” On the day of the construction, a roaring northwesterly wind pounded Reed Beach highlighting the need for this research. The reef is modest by design, our goal is to create an experiment to help understand how reefs protect the beach, create sheltered water for breeding horseshoe crabs, and to find out if crabs can navigate past them to the beach. Joe Smith checked the reefs on Monday to determine the impact of the windy weekend assault and so far so good, the reefs held up….

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Beaches Are Growing And Reefs Are Being Built

The two beaches slowly take form but already promise better breeding habitat for horseshoe crabs. H4 adds about 2000 tons of Ricci Bros Sand every day, slowly building towards our goal of 48,000 tons on Fortescue Beach. We are now at 20,500 tons. One can now envisage the final beach and the sheer volume of sand it will take to make it. Boomer Huen running the front end loader and bulldozer pushes sand into the inter-tidal zone and the night time high tide reshapes it. Its not a loss however, the sand moves into the designed beach profile that Steve…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Improving Economy of Local Bayshore Towns

Although our project focuses on improving conditions for horseshoe crabs and birds, we also aim to improve the economy of rural bayshore towns in small but meaningful ways. This is important because, like much of the country’s rural areas, Cumberland County suffers enormous levels of poverty. According to a recent survey by NJ Times, Cumberland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with nearly 44% of working age males are out of work. We tried to help at the start of our work. We included the leaders of the bayside towns, Middle Township, Maurice River Township and…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Constructing Fortescue and Thompson’s Beach in 2015

The construction teams in Fortescue and Thompson’s are now moving as fast as possible to finish the restoration work before the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Each company follows a different procedure for building Fortescue and Thompson’s beaches. At Fortescue, the town rebuilt an existing berm of rubble that protected the beach road after Hurricane Sandy destroyed ​the berm​. They then capped it with unformed concrete. H4’s excavator moves slowly down the reformed berm to load sand on the inter​-​tidal beach to create an out-of-tide roadway for the bulldozer (see video above). Subsequent sand is used to…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Fortescue and Thompson’s Beach: “It’s all labor”

In the video above, Humphrey Sitters counts 16,000 red knots on Egg Island Point, just east of our new beach. The flock is the largest concentration in the hemisphere. The construction of Fortescue Beach has finally reached that early stage known to most people in construction where they say “it’s all labor”. The early logistical problems have been ironed out and our goal is simple, to get as much sand onto the beach as fast as is possible. On Tuesday and Wednesday, H4 hauled over 4000 tons of sand. The beach gradually takes shape. Boomer Huen and Eric Johnson use…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Fortescue Beach Takes Form on Delaware Bay

Fortescue beach begins to take form as a constant line of 24 ton trucks deliver sand and H4 operators lift it over the sea wall and onto the intertidal edge of the sea. On Monday, March 23, they hauled 2,000 tons. The benefit of our work became apparent on Tuesday, March 24, as the high tide washed against the derelict bulkheads that once protected this road south out of Fortescue connecting it to Raybin’s Beach. In the clip above Boomer Huen’s bulldozer heroically extends the high tide line out against the Delaware Bay waves lap the new shoreline. When horseshoe…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Restoration Continues, Regardless of Snow

Both projects, Thompson’s Beach and South Fortescue Beach continued under a cold and very wet snow storm this past Friday (March 20, 2015). Just the five mile difference made for snowfall on Fortescue, but rain on Thompson’s. With rubble removed in the first section of Fortescue beach, Boomer Huen started building the beach on South Fortescue. With 7 trucks carrying loads of sand from Ricci Brothers Sand Plan, we were able to place over 1,000 yards of sand. The geographical orientation of this new beach will be similar to those on the Cape May peninsula including North and South Reeds Beach….

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Work at Fortescue Beach Begins

With the help of the New Jersey Division of Land Use Regulation, we were cleared to work on Fortescue Beach last Friday, March 20, 2015. It’s a big project! We will be moving over 40,000 yards of sand, nearly twice as much as was used in 2013 on the five beaches between Reeds Beach to Pierce’s Point. Restoring South Fortescue Beach will be vital to achieving the goals of our project. The most important goal is to remove the threat posed by a rubble strewn shoreline. The rubble served as a stopgap attempt to protect the road that connects Fortescue…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Thompson’s Beach Restoration is Underway

Earlier this month, this season’s restoration work began at Thompson’s Beach. Wickberg Marine restored the road out to the Beach. The road once served the community of Thompson’s Beach, a small bayside enclave of Maurice River Township. After a series of punishing storms, the State DEP and Maurice River Township gained control of the small overwashed beach community and removed the houses. Two years ago, the DEP’s Bureau of Coastal Engineering and NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife removed much of the rubble that residents once used to protect their homes from angry Delaware Bay storms, but left a significant portion…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay

Alienate Rural Communities with Good Intentions

In the previous post I suggest rural communities suffer existential threats, property taxes high among them but great potential exist for renewal.  How do we respond to their need? Perched precariously on the banks of the Cohansey River and within sight of the Delaware Bay shipping channels, my hometown of Greenwich, New Jersey was established in the late 17th century by Dutch traders. Subsequently, the English overran the Dutch and by the mid 1700s, the town thrived as the main port of entry for all of the productive South Jersey farming communities. In 1775, insurgent patriots dumped tea into the…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay

Inadequate Wildlife Conservation hurts People and Wildlife

In the last post I suggest that conservationists need to help wildlife that have no voice and the people whose communities share the land with wildlife. The economic fortune of rural communities can depend on good conservation. This is the sad story of Fortescue NJ. The most obvious sign of decline is the failed tackle shops, which starkly contrasts with the forthright declaration found at the town’s center: Fortescue, Weakfish Capital of the World. Robust weakfish populations have long deserted this and every other town on Delaware Bay, and agency biologists are perplexed as to why. The fishery collapse and…

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Arctic, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Returning to the Arctic

The odd thing about the shorebirds of Delaware Bay is that they are not really of Delaware Bay but of the Canadian Arctic. The most important part of their lives is spent in the barren high tundra of the Arctic, in places like Southampton Island, located on the north end of Hudson Bay. We have worked in Southampton Island for 6 years studying the red knot but stopped because the decline seen in Delaware Bay was more than apparent in the Arctic – birds literally disappeared from our wilderness study site. It’s been 8 years since then, and now we…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science

A recovery as slow as a horseshoe crab on a cold day

We begin our Delaware Bay Shorebird Project on both sides of the bay this week and as always, it’s a time to look at our program and see where we are and ask the question where would we like to go?  What is happening to the birds, the horseshoe crabs, are things getting better. The most recent horseshoe crabs surveys suggest there has been no improvement in horseshoe crab numbers since the ASMFC began its regulations affecting the harvest of crabs in 1998.  Moreover the survival models developed for horseshoe crab and red knots developed by a team of scientists,…

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