This winter, the American Littoral Society piloted new Seal & Winter Waterfowl Field Trips for schools and homeschool groups.
The Society hosts public Seal & Winter Waterfowl Walks to provide people the opportunity to learn about and observe seasonal wildlife on Sandy Hook from January through March. This year, Education Director Michelle Rebilas and Education Coordinator Audrey Litto expanded this popular program to include an enriching field trip opportunity for K-12 students.
Sandy Hook is home to an amazing amount of wildlife, even in the winter! People come from all around New Jersey and beyond to observe and snap pictures of harbor seals that haul-out right by the Chapel. Sandy Hook also provides habitat for a variety of winter waterfowl including the American black duck, bufflehead, red breasted merganser, and everyone’s favorite: the Canada goose. Our Seal & Winter Waterfowl Field Trip is a great way for students to learn about common identifying features and behavioral traits of winter wildlife and get to see them in person.
As the days grow longer and the warmth of spring envelopes the coastline, we're excited to announce the return of the American Littoral Society's "Close Encounters with the Coast" field trips.
Set to kick off in May and run through September, these day trips for school age groups use nature as a classroom in which students can engage, experiment, and explore our local coastal and marine environments.
A Close Encounters with the Coast Field Trip is the perfect way for students of all ages to explore beach habitats and observe wildlife up-close alongside Littoral Society educators. An interactive, hands-on field trip connects students to the coast in a way they will never forget.
Our Close Encounters with the Coast Field Trip is ideal for schools, homeschool groups, scout troops, and private and municipal camps/recreation groups. The Society is committed to providing students with an enriching and exciting experience, so we can work with you to design the perfect program that meets your needs and age group.
As the American Littoral Society Fish Tagging Program approaches its 1 millionth tagged fish, we decided it was time to try something new in 2024: dart tags! These tags are a great improvement, not only to the anglers who will be using them, but to the fish that they will be tagging.
As many of our taggers know, the Tagging Program has been using two types of tags for many years: spaghetti and lock-on tags. Both of these tags have served our program well – having been used on most of the nearly 980,000 fish our members have tagged since the program began in 1965. But one of the biggest downsides is that the tag has to go all the way through the fish, before being tied or locked by the angler.
While these tags have been used for many years by the Fish Tagging Program, we’ve decided it’s time to try something new to us.
Dart tags are not new tech for fish tagging, but they have become more common recently because they are easier for the user and the fish. Dart tags are shorter than either of the other two tag types and got their name from the plastic barb that protrudes from one end.
The American Littoral Society has joined more than 20 partners — led by the Center for Biological Diversity, and including the Humane Society and the American Bird Conservancy — to petition the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to list the horseshoe crab under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The effort to have horseshoe crabs declared an endangered species is prompted by the ongoing crash horseshoe crab populations, which is the result of of overharvesting and habitat loss, as well as the importance the crabs play in an intricate web of life that encompasses fish and other aquatic species, along with migratory shorebirds that rely on the crabs' eggs to fuel their journeys.
"Despite habitat restoration work and extensive advocacy on our part, which has included a successful campaign in the early 1990s for a New Jersey moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs, as well as having Red Knots listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, the horseshoe crab population has not recovered from the extensive damage done by overharvesting in the 1990's," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "The crabs also face the ongoing challenge from efforts by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to increase the allowable harvest, which further erodes our confidence that the current governmental management priorities will aid the recovery of the crabs or the birds."
“We’re wiping out one of the world’s oldest and toughest creatures,” said Will Harlan, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These living fossils urgently need Endangered Species Act protection. Horseshoe crabs have saved countless human lives, and now we should return the favor.”
While many things slow down during the winter months, the American Littoral Society's "Shuck It, Don't Chuck It!" (SIDCI) Shell Recycling Program doesn’t go into hibernation. In fact, program staff are already doing the leg work for expanding the initiative, which is aimed at helping re-oyster New Jersey’s waters!
Those efforts include setting up a new series of Sip N’ Shuck events, with the next one coming up at the end of February.
With the colder season there is a natural slowdown in local seafood consumption, which affects the number of shells we collect. However, this seasonal dip allows time for assessing and enhancing the SIDCI program. Program staff have been hard at work, planning improvements we think will make 2024 a standout year.
A highlight of the revamped program is an expanded schedule of our popular "Sip N Shuck" events. These gatherings at local restaurants will be held regularly until at least June.
The Littoral Society is honored to welcome Philip Silva, PhD, to our Board of Trustees.
Silva is Director, Community Impact at American Express. He is also the co-founder and former executive director of TreeKIT, an initiative that helped the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation mobilize thousands of volunteers to accurately map and inventory nearly 700,000 street trees in 2015.
As an Outreach Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space's "Five Borough Farm" initiative, Philip worked with community gardeners in NYC to co-create a kit of easy-to-use methods for measuring the positive impacts of urban agriculture. Philip has designed, facilitated, and evaluated adult learning experiences focused on leadership and the environment for the National Recreation and Park Association, the Central Park Conservancy, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Environmental Leadership Program, the Cornell Civic Ecology Lab, the Design Trust for Public Space, and many others.
He has served on the Core Consulting Team for Global Learning Partners, an adult learning service company, and as a Storytelling Trainer for BB&Co., a strategic communications consultancy. Philip holds a Ph.D. in natural resources from Cornell University, where his research focused on knowledge production, participatory research, and communities of practice in urban environmental stewardship organizations. He is a part-time lecturer in qualitative research methods at The New School.
Philip enjoys exploring the many parks, coastlines, and historic sites of Monmouth County—often with his partner, Matt, and their dog, Fox.
Is your New Year's resolution to make a difference in 2024? If so, we'd love to have you as a volunteer helping us in our coastal conservation work.
We have many volunteer opportunities, such as tagging horseshoe crabs, monitoring restoration projects, lending a hand with administrative assistance, joining beach cleanups, planting dune grasses, and so much more.
If you would like to learn more about how you can help us continue Caring for the Coast, please fill out our online volunteer interest form and we’ll get back to you with related opportunities.
In May of 2023, our partnership with the Cape May Point Science Center (CMPSC) began, which allowed us to team up with Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT) to take our horseshoe crab research to the next level.
Our goal is to track the behavior and movement patterns of horseshoe crabs during the spawning season. To gather this data, tags which transmit radio telemetry data were affixed to the horseshoe crab’s shell. Whenever these tagged crabs came ashore, the time and beach location were tracked and recorded.
The Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of spawning Atlantic horseshoe crabs, (Limulus polyphemus). The horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn and lay eggs during the months of May and June, with peak spawning occurring during new and full moon events at high tide.
The American Littoral Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Ryan Flood to the position of Development Assistant. He will work out of our Sandy Hook office.
Ryan has a long association with this area and Sandy Hook, as well as with the coast. He has spent most of his life living along the Jersey Shore, filling free time with activities in and around the area’s ocean and rivers, including surfing, fishing, and hiking.
While attending Monmouth County's Marine Academy of Science & Technology (aka M.A.S.T.) on Sandy Hook, Ryan dove into Oceanography and Marine Sciences and helped crew the school’s 65-foot research vessel the "Blue Sea".
'Tis the season to recycle Christmas trees! For the third year in a row, the Littoral Society is collecting trees for use at our Slade Dale Sanctuary living shoreline project.
Trees can be dropped off by anyone at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (708 NJ-88, Point Pleasant, NJ), in the field behind the parking lot (the location will be marked). Point Pleasant borough residents can leave their trees curbside for normal Dept. of Public Works pickup. Be sure to remove all ornaments, tinsel and lights before discarding the tree.
For more information, contact Zack Royle at the American Littoral Society, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2019, the American Littoral Society constructed a living shoreline at Slade Dale Sanctuary, a 13-acre preserve located in Point Pleasant, NJ. Living shorelines use nature-based methods to stabilize shorelines while also creating or enhancing habitat, increasing biodiversity, filtering water, storing carbon and protecting communities. They also tend to be far less expensive to construct and maintain than hard structures. The bonus is that living shorelines can grow over time.