On Thursday, July 25, at 10 a.m. the American Littoral Society and supporters used a parade of boats to carry the latest batch of oyster babies from our nursery in Ocean Gate, NJ to a reef site off Good Luck Point in Barnegat Bay.
"The oyster nursery and parade are part of the Littoral Society's Operation Oyster program, which aims to improve water quality in New Jersey's bays and estuaries, as well as improve coastal resiliency through re-establishing natural oyster reefs" said Capt. Al Modjeski, the Habitat Restoration Program Director for the Littoral Society. "This program not only restores a lost part of our coastal ecology, it directly engages the community in conservation through activities like the Parade of Boats."
The Parade of Boats will also be a celebration of the expansion of the Littoral Society's work in Barnegat Bay, through a $1 million Water Quality Restoration Grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. That grant is part of $10 million grant program from the state aimed at improving Barnegat Bay.
It was Christmas in May, as a bevy of volunteers did their bit to help begin restoration of an eroded shoreline at Slade Dale Sanctuary in Point Pleasant, NJ.
Now it's Mother Nature's turn to play her role in the process, under the watchful eye of the American Littoral Society.
A first-of-its-kind project for New Jersey, the restoration work involves using recycled Christmas trees placed in branchbox breakwaters and tree vanes to re-establish the shoreline of a salt marsh along Beaverdam Creek. The wetlands have eroded approximately 300 feet over the past century.
"You could smell Christmas in the air," said Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Director for the American Littoral Society, recalling the May 11 workday. "But placing the trees only sets the stage for the next phases of this project."
It has been nearly seven years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southeastern New Jersey, which is hard to forget given that signs of that devastating storm still linger around the state.
However, in that time the American Littoral Society and its partners were able to deal with the initial environmental damage along NJ’s Delaware Bayshore and begin restoring critical habitat for the horseshoe crab and shorebirds, such as the red knot. While those efforts have yielded some encouraging results, the Red Knot population remains near historic lows and much more work needs to be done to ensure it rebounds.
Project partners include community and state leaders, leading global shorebird biologists and local contractors, with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), William Penn Foundation, and the Dodge Foundation.
Now the Littoral Society is preparing for the next stage of work to protect and restore the coast in that area with the signing of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) 10-year regional permit for restoring beach and creating oyster reefs along the Delaware Bayshore of Cape May and Cumberland counties.
Operation Oyster officially launched on Friday, July 12 with a gathering at American Littoral Society HQ on Sandy Hook. Returning participants were welcomed back to the program, as were new volunteers, through a brief Oyster Wrangler training program. That was followed by refreshments as the sun descended over Sandy Hook Bay.
Operation Oyster efforts in New Jersey involve projects in Delaware Bay, Barnegat Bay, and the Two Rivers area. The program includes the "Shuck It, Don’t Chuck It!" oyster shell recycling program; reef building; and research and monitoring of water quality and viability of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers.
The overarching goal of Operation Oyster is to re-oyster New Jersey's coastal waterways using natural materials. Oysters are nature's water filters and could help improve water quality in bays and estuaries if restored in adequate numbers. Oyster reefs also help protect the coast from storms and provide ecosystem that supports young fish and other marine creatures.
Before heading down the shore for Memorial Day, Carla Burlingame’s class from ExCel School is starting the transformation of a vacant lot in Bridgeton into a park with tree plantings, rain gardens, planter boxes.
Bumblebees and butterflies are expected to visit in droves, stopping for a drink in the students’ flowers, trees and garden. But this humble patch of wildflowers and spongy soil is more than a seasonal oasis for pollinators; it holds the key to keeping South Jersey’s drinking water clean and plentiful all year long.
“Not only are they learning to take care of their environment and community, but how important it is to be an involved, active citizen.” says Burlingame. “A student recently cited these community green-up days as highlight of her 7th grade year. The trip taught her how important it is to take care of her community and how it’s everyone’s job.”
Prime Day begins Monday, July 15 at 9 a.m. and deals for you can add up to deals for the American Littoral Society if you buy through AmazonSmile after choosing the Society as your designated charity.
And AmazonSmile can benefit the Littoral Society whenever you Shop at Amazon, even if you aren't a Prime member. Best of all, it costs you nothing.
AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. It includes the same products, same prices, same services. AmazonSmile simply allows you to give a gift to the American Littoral Society every time you make a purchase.
Join the American Littoral Society to discover the diverse wildlife inhabiting our coast on one of the American Littoral Society's most popular family activities: Sunset Seining on Sandy Hook Bay.
After a short talk on the Littoral Society's front porch, you will drive over to Horseshoe Cove to help pull a 40-foot seine net that will scoop up a variety of marine creatures. Our trained naturalists will then fill you in on how they fit into the ecosystem.
There are four summer Tuesdays scheduled: July 9 and 23, as well as Aug. 6 and 20. Registration is free for members, $10 for non-member children, $20 for non-member adults. To register, click links below.
Operation Oyster aims to bring local communities together through education and restoration based research. Having a strong volunteer presence supporting this program is imperative to its mission.
As an ‘Oyster Wrangler’ citizen scientist, you will play a crucial role in the American Littoral Society’s state-wide effort to raise awareness about the importance of oysters and their ecological benefit to our ecosystem. Oyster Wranglers observe, monitor, and record data on oysters and varying aquatic species at dock locations throughout the Two Rivers.
The data and observations collected by the Wranglers helps the Society better understand where in the Two Rivers oysters and species benefiting from oyster habitat flourish. Furthermore, Oyster Wranglers act as environmental ambassadors for the Society by educating those they come in contact with about the beneficial impact oysters can make on the health of the Two Rivers.
Contact Julie Schumacher at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to participate.