Seining in search of juvenile river herring continues at Wreck Pond this week with help from volunteers and interns. We also had two students from Monmouth University out collecting samples of winter flounder.
The Monmouth students along with their professor, Dr. Keith Dunton, will be assessing conditions of the fish in four coastal waterbodies in NJ. Sampling will continue next week with surveys conducted in some additional areas on Friday, July 22.
This week Wall Township AP Environmental Science and Environmental Club students paid a visit to Wreck Pond. During the trip, they had the opportunity to test water quality, measure water flow, seine for juvenile fishes, and collect and identify benthic macroinvertebrates (also known as small animals living among stones, logs, sediments and aquatic plants on the bottom of streams, rivers and lakes). The group caught several species in the seine net including juvenile winter and windowpane flounder, striped and banded killifish, mummichog, juvenile sea robins and juvenile alewife. Check back next week for another update.
Despite the rainy, cold weather, it has been a busy week at Wreck Pond. We set the fyke nets up on Wednesday evening at Wreck Pond and Black Creek railroad bridges for another round of fish counting. They caught three more herring and a few painted turtles.
A fifth antenna was installed at the Wreck Pond railroad bridge on Thursday in order to track outmigration of tagged herring. That same day students from Monmouth University came out for their fifth collection of eDNA samples. Due to the rain, we had to cancel the field trip to Wreck Pond for 80 students from Monmouth County Communications High School. Instead students took a tour of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Lab at Sandy Hook.
The next few months will be busy with fish counting and community events, including some activities on Saturday, May 21 and 22 linked to World Fish Migration Day.
In addition to setting up a booth at the Spring Lake Irish Festival on Saturday, May 21, at which people can talk to us about fish migration and the restoration project, the Society will offer a variety of activities for children. The focus will be on river herring and American eel, two migratory fish species found in Wreck Pond, as well as the importance of maintaining a clean and connected watershed. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hands-on activities will launch at the intersection of Brown and Ocean avenues in Spring Lake.
On Sunday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., NOAA Fisheries and the American Littoral Society will have a display of live fish from Wreck Pond at the James Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory on Sandy Hook. Click here to learn more about this free activity.
Go here to learn more about World Fish Migration Day at Wreck Pond.
Keep up to date on other project news and happenings at WreckPond.org and the Littoral Society Facebook page.
Spring fish monitoring continues with a record catch of 91 alewife during this past event. Movement of alewife is tracked by instream antennas that detect tagged fish. So far we have had several detections at wreckpond brook. We are expanding our efforts this week with the installation of antennas at two other locations. More updates to come. Check back again next week.
Although fish passage construction has temporarily stopped at Wreck Pond, our restoration work continues. This week marks our third fyke net set in Wreck Pond and our second net set in Black Creek. This sampling, designed to captured adult river herring migrating into the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed to spawn, has already resulted in the capture of 21 alewife in Wreck Pond. Of those captured, 11 have been implanted with PIT tags. While no river herring have been captured in our Black Creek net, our sampling efforts are allowing us to learn more about the local ecology of Black Creek.
This week also marks our first detection of a PIT tagged fish. We currently have two antennas set up in the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. Both are located near the confluence of Wreck Pond Brook and Hannabrand Brook, with one antenna located on the Wreck Pond Brook side and the other located on the Hannabrand side. A male alewife (Fish 507) has been detected over multiple nights by our Wreck Pond Brook antenna.
Our educational effort is also starting to ramp up. We have several field trips planned in the next month for students from Communications High School and Wall High School. These trips allow the students to explore and experience, first hand, some of the concepts that we discussed with them during in class lessons conducted over the winter.
Piping Plover can nest peacefully with the halt of construction at Wreck Pond. Work on 600-foot fish passage was curtailed after reaching 460 feet, because Plovers are known to nest on the beach near the project area in the spring and summer. Work to finish the fish passage will resume after Labor Day.
However, while the audible sound of construction has stopped, a new buzz of excitement has begun to grow amongst Littoral Society staff and volunteers as we await the incoming army of river herring.
Each spring, groups of river herring (colloquially know as an army) make their way up the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed to spawn. This year, the Society has expanded its fish sampling program to include a second fyke net in Black Creek and the use of PIT tags. PIT tags are tiny transponders that can be implanted within fish.
Like a fish EZPass, when a tagged fish swims over an antenna placed in the water, the tag number registers on a computer. In this way, Society scientists will be better able to track the movement of river herring within the watershed, providing a better understanding of river herring spawning habits. Eighteen alewife have already been captured this year, with eight tagged this week.
Thank you to Olaf Jensen of Rutgers University for his advice and technical expertise in helping us establish our PIT tagging program. We also want to recognize, Mario Hernandez, of Dr. Jensen’s lab, as Mario provided in field training on PIT tagging fishes, as well as guidance on setting up our instream antennas. The assistance of Dr. Jensen and his lab were invaluable to us, and we greatly appreciate their help.
Construction of the fish passage will take a Piping Plover pause beginning next week. Five more segments will go in by the end of this week, bringing culvert length to about 460 feet. The construction crew will demobilize early next week and will return after Labor Day to finish the last 140 feet of the passage between pond and ocean.
The first alewife of the season was caught Wednesday morning (March 23) at Wreck Pond. Fish monitoring will continue now until June, around and during the new and full moons. The cofferdam is being set for installation of another 50-60 feet of fish passage which will bring the total to 470 feet at some time next week. Demobilization is still set for the first week in April. As of now, there have been no Piping Plover observed on or around the site.
The fyke net is set once again at Spring Lake’s Wreck Pond to see if all this warm weather has led to an early herring run. The net will be tended twice a day to collect more fish data and confirm timing of the herring run over the next few months. Check back with the new moon to see what we have been catching.
The first 300 feet of fish passage are complete and regraded to pre-Sandy conditions. The knife gate and stop logs are installed on the pond side of the culvert, and construction continues towards the ocean. By the end of day on March 16 more than 400 feet of culvert sections will be in the ground. Site contractor Simpson and Brown plan reach 470 feet before they have to stop work on April 7 for Piping Plover nesting season. A Plover monitor will be on-site until that date to ensure work doesn’t encroach on any birds that get an early start on nesting. Outreach for the project continued with Habitat Restoration Coordinator Jenna Krug and USFWS Project Biologist Katie Conrad making a presentation about the project on Monday, March 14 at the Society of Ecological Restoration Mid-Atlantic Chapter. Also, plans have been made for local high school students to make field trips to the Wreck Pond site in April and May. Check back weekly for more information.
Work at Wreck Pond presses forward. The knife gate and stop logs located at the pond end of the culvert have been installed, culvert pieces continue to be delivered, and wooden piles are being driven, with Simpson and Brown anticipating having 430 feet of the culvert completed by March 15.
Starting on that same date a certified bird monitor will be onsite to look for piping plovers at the project site. These little shorebirds are state endangered and federally threatened, and thus it is important to not disturb their nesting grounds during their breeding and nesting season.
With a work extension granted to April 7th, Simpson and Brown are hopeful they will be able to reach 480’ before demobilizing for the summer.
About 50 people attended Saturday’s Lunch and Learn for an update about the Wreck Pond restoration project and the future of the Jersey Shore in the face of a changing climate. Executive Director, Tim Dillingham introduced the film, “Climate Change and the Jersey Shore” with a brief overview and spoke about how we need to change our habits to reduce our carbon input. Capt. Al Modjeski provided a presentation on the background, goals, and progress of the work on the 73-acre coastal lake.
You can watch the Climate Change video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZn5Xh5FD88
The deadline for construction of the fish passage has been extended to April 7, which means that around-the-clock work could begin in order to complete the project. A qualified Piping Plover monitor will have to be on-site during construction from March 15 to April 7. Piping Plover are an endangered bird species. As of mid-week next week, 320 feet of the culvert should be in place along with the knife gate on the Pond side. Once the fish run is completely in place, sand will be graded on top to pre-Sandy conditions, which will make it ideal nesting ground for Piping Plover and other shorebirds. Remember to check back next week for an update on the status of this restoration project.
With the first 160 feet of fish passage firmly in place, Simpson and Brown has begun excavating the next 100 feet. Meanwhile, a knife gate and baffles are scheduled to arrive Friday, Feb. 19, and should be installed next week. The knife gate will be placed on the pond side of the passage and control water flow into or out of the culvert. The baffles are removable structures that will be placed in the culvert to adjust water flow rate.
Despite a few surprising days of coastal flooding, work continues at the Wreck Pond Restoration site. As of Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, 160 feet of the fish passage has been installed. The crew is working hard to backfill this area and regrade while also removing the coffer dam and wood pilings from this section and placing it in the next 200 foot section.
In the meantime, preparations are underway for a Spring start for adult river herring sampling and post-construction monitoring, as well as a Lunch & Learn program at the end of February.
This week marked a construction milestone at Wreck Pond, as the first section of culvert was installed. Prior to this moment, workers have been busy building the current 175-foot long wooden an
d steel cribbing structure to which the culvert would be anchored. As the culvert pieces are installed, worker
s will backfill the current construction area and begin excavating and shoring the next 175 feet of beach.
Work resumed at the Wreck Pond restoration site only days after Winter Storm Jonas blew into New Jersey. Despite reports of serious flooding and beach erosion to the south, the work site suffered little damage, thanks in large part to the preparation work crews from Simpson & Brown (the marine construction contractor for the project). Prior to the storm, which brought 50 mph winds and about two feet of snow, bulldozers created a second line of dunes on the beach and a sand berm around the ocean side of the construction area. Storm surge erased the first line of dunes and came over the second line in some spots. As a result water did fill the fish passage trench, but that served to reinforce the structure. The water was cleared only hours after workers returned to the site and the project continues on schedule.
US Congressman Chris Smith and Commissioner Bob Martin, of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, were among those giving their vocal support to the multi-million dollar restoration project.
In addition to flood mitigation and water quality improvement, the project also aims to help re-establish the pond and surrounding streams as a breeding ground for fish such as American herring. The 600-foot box culvert that will improve water exchange with the ocean will also serve as an improved route for fish to enter and exit the pond.
The first 100 feet of the wood pilings that will hold the first ten sections of the concrete box culvert are in place. The pieces that will be connecting each section are due to arrive Wednesday, Jan. 20, and the first sections are due to be placed early next week.
Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton began the press event by thanking all of the state, federal, local and non-profit agencies that worked together to make this project a reality. Funding for the project came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, NJDEP, and Spring Lake Borough.
"Together, we can be very proud of a project with multiple benefits, including reduction in flood risk for those residents who live in and around Wreck Pond, the anticipation of increased fish passage between the ocean and the pond and the gradual return to a healthier pond environment and water quality in one of the most scenic coastal lakes along the Jersey Shore," Naughton said.
Other speakers included NJ Assemblyman David Rible, County Freeholders Tom Arnone and Gary Rich, USFWS Field Supervisor Eric Schrading, and American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham.
“This is clearly a cutting-edge and very, very exciting project," Dillingham said. "We're not only restoring and protecting the environment, but we're (also) protecting the communities next to it. This a textbook example of how to live with the Jersey Shore and not simply on it.”
Stay tuned for more news about the project, including the time, date and place for a public lunch & learn in February.
Project Update - Jan. 13, 2016
Project construction at Wreck Pond progresses with the arrival of the first section of box culvert to the site. Prior to the arrival of the first culvert section, workers onsite created a cofferdam on the beach by excavating an area, then driving steel sheeting into the ground. This created a dry enclosure into which the culvert section can be placed. In the upcoming weeks, this process will be repeated as more sections of the culvert are added in stepwise fashion.
We will recognize progress on the restoration project and those who have played a role through support of the project with a press event on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. The event will take place on the boardwalk near the corner of Brown Ave. and Ocean Ave. in Spring Lake. Be sure to check back here for more information on the event and updates on the project. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Weekly Project Update - December 14, 2015
Belmar, New Jersey’s St. Rose High School’s Environmental Club joined Julie Schumacher and Zack Royle, of the American Littoral Society, for an afternoon of fish sampling at the Society’s Wreck Pond Restoration site. Using a 100-foot seine net, students found hundreds of Atlantic silversides, mummichogs, and sheepshead minnows. The students were thrilled to have a relatively warm and sunny December afternoon to enjoy this hands-on experience that connected them with their neighboring watershed. St. Rose looks forward to joining the American Littoral Society for further field visits in the Spring.
Zack also attended a student poster session at Monmouth University, where several Marine Biology students presented on their work assisting Zack with fall fish sampling at Wreck Pond. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Monmouth University in future sampling and monitoring efforts.
And construction of the box culvert between Wreck Pond and the ocean could begin as early as Dec. 15. Besides helping to reduce flooding in the area surrounding Wreck Pond, the culvert is designed to improve fish passage into and out of the pond.
Weekly Project Update - December 7, 2015
As the start of the inlet construction approaches, dredging continues in Wreck Pond. They are working hard to complete the dredging by the December 31 deadline. This Wednesday, Julie Schumacher, the Society’s Outreach Coordinator will be out at the Pond with a group of high school students from St. Rose. She will be teaching the students about the project in its entirety and will be doing several activities including fish seining, water quality testing and vegetation surveys. Remember to check back next week for another project update. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more frequent updates and project photos.
Our coasts are dynamic. Natural processes continually act upon our shorelines altering their shape and position. These recurrent changes are punctuated by storm events that further reshape our shores, and potentially damage our homes, businesses, and infrastructure. With rising sea levels and the threat of more severe storms due to climate change, it is essential that we establish more resilient coastal areas. By restoring nature and better facilitating natural processes, we can create coastal communities more resistant to damage and better able to recover from destructive events.
This project builds upon previous restoration work to further increase the ecological and community resiliency in and around Wreck Pond, a 73-acre coastal lake located on the border of Spring Lake and Sea Girt, NJ. The project involves the construction of a 5.5’ x 8’ x 600’ concrete box culvert to serve as a secondary connection between Wreck Pond and the Atlantic Ocean, the installation of an elevated berm and approximately 6000’ of living shoreline around Wreck Pond and Black Creek, and the dredging of 37,000 cubic yards of sediment from Wreck Pond. The project is designed to restore the aquatic connectivity between Wreck Pond and the Atlantic Ocean, remove the buildup of sediment, and create more natural shorelines. These project components will work together to improve the passage of fishes (particularly river herring and American eel) into and out of Wreck Pond, reduce the risk of flooding to surrounding communities, and improve water quality, resulting in a healthier, more diverse, and more resilient ecosystem. Project work began in June 2014 and is anticipated to be completed in summer of 2017.
Wreck Pond serves as the eastern extent of the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed, which is home to over 12 square miles of important habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife. Wreck Pond is fed by three main tributaries – Wreck Pond Brook, Black Creek, and Hannabrand Brook – that together with smaller creeks and streams, drain the boroughs of Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, and Wall Township in Monmouth County, NJ.
Historically, Wreck Pond had a natural inlet; however, in the 1930’s the inlet was filled in, and a pipe was installed to connect the lake to the ocean. Over time, the restricted tidal flow caused by the pipe, coupled with impacts from increased development, led to a number of environmental issues within the watershed including erosion, impaired water quality, flooding, and reduced fish populations.
Since the early 2000’s, a diverse group of partners has been working together to address these issues and help restore the ecological health of Wreck Pond and the larger watershed. Numerous monitoring studies, the extension of the existing outfall pipe, sewer infrastructure repair, dredging, the installation of stormwater management devices, and property owner education has resulted in improved water quality and provided a better understanding of the dynamics of Wreck Pond and the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed.
Following Hurricane Sandy, the American Littoral Society, in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, received a US Department of the Interior (DOI) Coastal Resiliency Grant to improve the aquatic connectivity of Wreck Pond. This grant funded the construction of a larger box culvert connecting Wreck Pond to the Atlantic Ocean. The culvert was specifically designed to improve fish passage for river herring and American eel. River herring (the collective term for two NOAA species of concern: alewife and blueback herring) once supported one of the largest commercial and recreational fisheries along the Atlantic coast. However, the blockage of spawning rivers, along with habitat degradation and overfishing, has led to severely diminished populations. The blockage of rivers has also negatively affected American eel, the only species of freshwater eel in North America.
As the project progressed, additional partners were added including the Army Corps of Engineers, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Monmouth County, the Borough of Spring Lake, Monmouth University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Leon S. Avakian, Inc., and Najarian Associates. This unique collaboration of public, private, academic, and nonprofit institutions has worked together to leverage more funding and expand the scope of the project to allow for more comprehensive restoration work that includes the creation of living shorelines around Wreck Pond and Black Creek, and the dredging of sediment from Wreck Pond. Additional funding received includes a Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) issued through the NJ Office of Flood Hazard Risk Reduction Measures and funded by US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and funding from the Borough of Spring Lake.
Become a citizen scientist: download the iNaturalist app on your smartphone, join the Wreck Pond Biodiversity Project click here, and start recording species seen in and around Wreck Pond.