Rowan University students recently spent a day visiting two American Littoral Society restoration sites along the Delaware Bay.
The students were part of a student-driven journalism initiative called South Jersey Climate News, which explores the effects of climate change on a local and regional level in southern New Jersey. They spent a day at Thompsons Marsh and Thompsons Beach, which are located in Cumberland County, NJ, amidst the Heislerville Wildlife Management Area.
The group was led by Littoral Society Restoration Program staffers Quinn Whitesall McHerron and Toni Rose Tablante. They were also joined by journalism Professor Mark Berkey-Gerard, an SJ Climate News faculty advisor, and Andrew Lewis, a journalist and author of the book The Drowning of Money Island, which chronicles the struggle of his New Jersey hometown to rebuild in the face of poverty, storm damage and rising seas..
Thompsons Marsh has an extensive history of salt hay farming and diking, which made for low marsh elevations and heightened vulnerability to sea level rise. In 1994, PSE&G created and managed the Maurice River Salt Hay Farm Restoration Site, which included Thompsons. From 2017 to 2019, the Littoral Society worked to restore two key sites in the marsh using sediment dredged from the man-made channels within the marsh system.
As a result, the marsh was returned to a state that would enable to serve as both a sponge for future coastal storms and habitat for wildlife.
Following the discussion about the marsh project, the group ventured down the nearly mile-long lane to Thompsons Beach, sharing more ideas about marsh restoration, college life, and careers along the way. Once at the beach, Quinn touched on the acquisition of the resort community that existed there through the NJDEP Blue Acres Program. Bits and pieces of the furniture and houses, most of which were swept away by a huge wave in 1950, can still be found on the sand today!
The group was lucky to encounter three male Atlantic horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) on the shore, which was a perfect opportunity for Toni Rose to share her knowledge. The students got up-close with the living fossils (most for the first time), which fostered much excitement for our upcoming horseshoe crab tagging season, which begins in May.
The day was closed out by more beachcombing and a walk back to the marsh project site.
South Jersey Climate News’ goal is to better inform the public about the challenges of climate change in our communities and to explore potential solutions and ways to adapt. Visit their website and see the students’ work, including highlights of the Littoral Society’s restoration efforts at https://sjclimate.news/.
Learn more about the Littoral Society's restoration and horseshoe crabs work on our website.
Have any questions for us? Contact Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Toni Rose at email@example.com.