Tag Archives: Sandy Hook Bay

Dead Dolphin Found in Sandy Hook Bay

dolphins 1BRIGANTINE, NJ – A lone dolphin which spent time this year in the Shrewsbury River was discovered dead in Sandy Hook Bay, according to Mike Kapp, a Field Stranding Technician at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.

“As of now we cannot confirm species of this dolphin but we do believe it to be the lone dolphin that has spent most of the summer and all of fall in the Shrewsbury River,” Mr. Kapp said. Continue reading Dead Dolphin Found in Sandy Hook Bay

Park System Naturalists Host Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay

seining sany hook bayPHOTO: Join the Monmouth County Park System for Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay.

PORT MONMOUTH & HIGHLANDS, NJ —  Discover a variety of fish, crabs and other sea creatures when the Monmouth County Park System hosts Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay this summer at Bayshore Waterfront Park in Port Monmouth and at the Popamora Point section of the Henry Hudson Trail in Highlands. 

Continue reading Park System Naturalists Host Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay

Park System Naturalists Host Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay

seining sany hook bayPHOTO: Join the Monmouth County Park System for Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay.

PORT MONMOUTH & HIGHLANDS, NJ —  Discover a variety of fish, crabs and other sea creatures when the Monmouth County Park System hosts Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay this summer at Bayshore Waterfront Park in Port Monmouth and at the Popamora Point section of the Henry Hudson Trail in Highlands. 

Continue reading Park System Naturalists Host Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay

Shriving Birds Near Sandy Hook Bay

joe reynoldsBrrrrrrrr. The New York City metropolitan region just logged in its coldest temperatures of the winter so far. It was so arctic the frigid air mass was historic and one for the record books.

The low temperature at Central Park in New York City on Valentines Day dipped to a daily record low of 1 degree below zero. The coldest Valentines Day on record in New York City in more than 100 years and the coldest winter reading at Central Park in more than 20 years since January 19, 1994, or when Bill Clinton was President. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Central Park occurred on February 19, 1934 when it was Siberian at -15 degrees.

The harsh cold wasn’t just confined to Central Park. It was ice cold at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday where the temperature dropped to 1 degree, which broke the old record of 4 degrees set in 1979. LaGuardia Airport tied the record low of 1 degree, previously set in 1979. The low temperature in Newark, NJ dropped to zero early Sunday morning, which also tied a record set back in 1979.

shivering birds 1

Around Sandy Hook Bay, the polar vortex sent low temperatures to a frigid 4 degrees on Sunday morning and kept very cold temperatures all day across Lower New York Bay. Highs were only in the teens. The cold was especially cruel as it followed a few weeks of temperatures averaging above normal. Temperatures were an extraordinary 30 degrees lower this weekend, compared to highs last weekend. Old Man Winter was clearly in charge.

With arctic air in place, how did the little sparrows and other songbirds survive around the estuary from the brutal cold? It turns out these little birds are not so delicate or dim-witted as we might think.

Although many birds head south for the winter, quite a few of our feathered friends stay put around Sandy Hook Bay and New York Harbor to be in a better position to find prime nesting territory next spring. Some other birds that nest in Canada or northern New England will also arrive here during the winter so they can have a shorter migration to better nesting sites in the spring than birds who overwintered in Mexico or South America.

Yet, the trade-offs to staying around New York City for the winter can be risky. Sparrows and other songbirds have to quickly learn to adapt to changing weather conditions and food resources. With few insects to be found, a bird’s diet changes almost exclusively to berries and seeds.

shivering birds 2

Food is important for a bird’s survival. One reason why so many birds migrate south is not due to cold temperatures, but a plentiful supply of food sources, which are not available around New York City in the winter months.

For many birds, feathers serve as excellent insulation and the oil that often covers feathers provides waterproofing. No doubt the best downy winter coat around. It allows them to keep warm and dry.

On a frigid day, birds will puff out feathers to trap warm air from the bird’s body and to heat cold spaces between feathers. A puff-up bird means more trapped air in the feathers, which means a warmer bird.

But there is more to keeping warm then just fluffing feathers. Birds are warm-blooded creatures with an average temperature of around 105° Fahrenheit. In order to keep this high metabolic rate going, birds need enough fuel or food each day to keep warm. Birds are able of endure bitter cold, even extreme cold, as long as there is sufficient food to be found.

Every calorie counts in order for birds to survive winter. Birds need to find enough food to get through the day and also build up adequate fat reserves for the coming night, all with limited daylight hours.

In order to keep warm at night, many birds will participate in a group shiver to generate heat in the flock. Shivering will raise their metabolic rate. The down side, it will cause more calories and fat to be depleted. Birds need to eat every day during the winter to keep healthy and happy.

One main strategy birds have to make sure they have food handy is to hide or cache their provisions, especially seeds. Caching is the activity of collecting and hiding food to be eaten at a later time by birds. It turns out many birds, especially land birds, are good at caching food.

In Vermont, one researcher found that Black-capped chickadees could locate a cache of high-energy food 28 days after the birds had hidden it. Another researcher found that chickadees will remember which caches have the fattest, highest-energy foods and consistently raid those caches first. They’re also clever about hiding their caches. Rather than create one big storehouse that would be easy to remember, they scatter their caches around their territories in case another animal raids one cache. Pretty smart for a birdbrain.

The truth is, it isn’t always necessary to worry about how birds keep warm during the winter, especially adult birds that have already survived their first winter. Birds often have plenty of ways to survive even the chilliest nights. Yet, people that know birds tend to want to help birds by providing food, shelter and other necessities to make a bird’s life a little less stressful in an urban-suburban environment. People that appreciate wildlife want to make sure our feathered friends enjoy winter outside just as much as humans enjoy winter in our warm, heated homes.

To view more pictures, video, or stories of wildlife around Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lower New York Bay, please visit my nature blog, NY Harbor Nature at http://www.nyharbornature.com

 

Shriving Birds Near Sandy Hook Bay

joe reynoldsBrrrrrrrr. The New York City metropolitan region just logged in its coldest temperatures of the winter so far. It was so arctic the frigid air mass was historic and one for the record books.

The low temperature at Central Park in New York City on Valentines Day dipped to a daily record low of 1 degree below zero. The coldest Valentines Day on record in New York City in more than 100 years and the coldest winter reading at Central Park in more than 20 years since January 19, 1994, or when Bill Clinton was President. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Central Park occurred on February 19, 1934 when it was Siberian at -15 degrees.

The harsh cold wasn’t just confined to Central Park. It was ice cold at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday where the temperature dropped to 1 degree, which broke the old record of 4 degrees set in 1979. LaGuardia Airport tied the record low of 1 degree, previously set in 1979. The low temperature in Newark, NJ dropped to zero early Sunday morning, which also tied a record set back in 1979.

shivering birds 1

Around Sandy Hook Bay, the polar vortex sent low temperatures to a frigid 4 degrees on Sunday morning and kept very cold temperatures all day across Lower New York Bay. Highs were only in the teens. The cold was especially cruel as it followed a few weeks of temperatures averaging above normal. Temperatures were an extraordinary 30 degrees lower this weekend, compared to highs last weekend. Old Man Winter was clearly in charge.

With arctic air in place, how did the little sparrows and other songbirds survive around the estuary from the brutal cold? It turns out these little birds are not so delicate or dim-witted as we might think.

Although many birds head south for the winter, quite a few of our feathered friends stay put around Sandy Hook Bay and New York Harbor to be in a better position to find prime nesting territory next spring. Some other birds that nest in Canada or northern New England will also arrive here during the winter so they can have a shorter migration to better nesting sites in the spring than birds who overwintered in Mexico or South America.

Yet, the trade-offs to staying around New York City for the winter can be risky. Sparrows and other songbirds have to quickly learn to adapt to changing weather conditions and food resources. With few insects to be found, a bird’s diet changes almost exclusively to berries and seeds.

shivering birds 2

Food is important for a bird’s survival. One reason why so many birds migrate south is not due to cold temperatures, but a plentiful supply of food sources, which are not available around New York City in the winter months.

For many birds, feathers serve as excellent insulation and the oil that often covers feathers provides waterproofing. No doubt the best downy winter coat around. It allows them to keep warm and dry.

On a frigid day, birds will puff out feathers to trap warm air from the bird’s body and to heat cold spaces between feathers. A puff-up bird means more trapped air in the feathers, which means a warmer bird.

But there is more to keeping warm then just fluffing feathers. Birds are warm-blooded creatures with an average temperature of around 105° Fahrenheit. In order to keep this high metabolic rate going, birds need enough fuel or food each day to keep warm. Birds are able of endure bitter cold, even extreme cold, as long as there is sufficient food to be found.

Every calorie counts in order for birds to survive winter. Birds need to find enough food to get through the day and also build up adequate fat reserves for the coming night, all with limited daylight hours.

In order to keep warm at night, many birds will participate in a group shiver to generate heat in the flock. Shivering will raise their metabolic rate. The down side, it will cause more calories and fat to be depleted. Birds need to eat every day during the winter to keep healthy and happy.

One main strategy birds have to make sure they have food handy is to hide or cache their provisions, especially seeds. Caching is the activity of collecting and hiding food to be eaten at a later time by birds. It turns out many birds, especially land birds, are good at caching food.

In Vermont, one researcher found that Black-capped chickadees could locate a cache of high-energy food 28 days after the birds had hidden it. Another researcher found that chickadees will remember which caches have the fattest, highest-energy foods and consistently raid those caches first. They’re also clever about hiding their caches. Rather than create one big storehouse that would be easy to remember, they scatter their caches around their territories in case another animal raids one cache. Pretty smart for a birdbrain.

The truth is, it isn’t always necessary to worry about how birds keep warm during the winter, especially adult birds that have already survived their first winter. Birds often have plenty of ways to survive even the chilliest nights. Yet, people that know birds tend to want to help birds by providing food, shelter and other necessities to make a bird’s life a little less stressful in an urban-suburban environment. People that appreciate wildlife want to make sure our feathered friends enjoy winter outside just as much as humans enjoy winter in our warm, heated homes.

To view more pictures, video, or stories of wildlife around Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lower New York Bay, please visit my nature blog, NY Harbor Nature at http://www.nyharbornature.com

 

An Oil Spill in Sandy Hook Bay

joe reynoldsAmid the holiday decorations, parties, and good cheer of December comes the horrifying news of an oil spill flowing and fouling once blue waters of Sandy Hook Bay, located at the mouth of New York Harbor. Hard to believe, there has not been an oil spill in these waters in some time, and the hope was there would not be another one.

The spill was discovered late Thursday afternoon on December 11, approximately 1.5 miles west near the northern tip of the Sandy Hook peninsula. The spill was about two miles long and about 400 yards wide. Brisk winds and choppy waves from a recent nor’easter along with nightfall and snow squalls made containment difficult.

bayshore oil slick 1

Coast Guard crews were booming off Horseshoe Cove, an environmentally sensitive area south of the slick, as a precaution from the oil reaching the shoreline. In these shallow waters can be found swimming shrimp, silversides, killifish, and hibernating Blue Crabs and Horseshoe Crabs. Yet, overnight the strong smell of oil was in the air at Sandy Hook, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

This is supposed to be a joyous season when Winter Flounder and Snowy Owls arrive, Humpback Whales are occasionally sighted off Sandy Hook and Sea Bright. Wintering ducks and geese come south from their nesting grounds up north to rest and feed around Lower New York Bay. Harbor and Gray Seals begin appearing around the estuary as they digest their food and rest and under the sun. During winter well over 300 Harbor and Gray seals will call these tidal waters home to feed on fish and shellfish and relax on remote beaches, rocks, and reefs.

Friday morning I headed down to Sandy Hook Bay to check on the damage. What I saw were well over 60 Harbor Seals resting on a distant beach in the bay. They looked happy and healthy for the moment. Resting, sleeping, and playing with the gulls flying above.

Unfortunately, in Spermaceti Cove at Sandy Hook, I spotted a lone male White-winged Scoter that was partially covered in oil. He was probably fishing for food near the tip of Sandy Hook. The poor bird had trouble flying far and high. The scoter tried to fly away, but its wings were too heavy from the oil and  he couldn’t fly anymore. The feeble bird just swam away to hid in the weeds. I contacted the good people at the American Littoral Society in hopes the bird could be saved.

bayshore oil slick 2

By late in the day on Friday, The U.S. Coast Guard was calling the oil spill a minor diesel fuel spill. It had reduced in size to one mile by 50 yards. State officials with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection  said it did not pose an environmental threat. Larry Ragonese, press director for NJ DEP said it was a “minor fuel sheen so thin that it cannot be collected.” The sheen is likely to evaporate by Saturday morning.

Yet, the jury is still out on what possible impacts this might have to local wildlife over the next few days, weeks or months. More time is needed to evaluate the problem. It’s too early to say if any wildlife were affected in the water or wetlands. Obviously at least one bird was affected by the spill. Were more birds in distress, but unobserved.  Floating oil can  also contaminate plankton, such as copepods which are plentiful in the winter,  and other small microscopic organisms in the water. Fish and whales feeding on these organisms can subsequently become contaminated through ingestion of contaminated prey or by direct toxic effects of oil. Seals too may be harmed if they eat lots of fish with oil in their body.

Of great concern still is the cause of this oil spill. At present, the Coast Guard says the exact source of the spill remains under investigation and is unknown. Theories abound, however, that the diesel spill was caused by nearby Earle Navy Base or by a one-time spill from a fishing boat.

No doubt, an oil spill is one of the worst ecologic disasters to happen in an aquatic ecosystem. No matter how big or small, an oil spill is a direct assault that degrades life-giving capacity for aquatic organisms. We need to stop having oil spills and start having more regard for preserving our precious waterways.

bayshore oil slick 3

The American Littoral Society is encouraging the public to keep their eyes on the water for signs of oil and oiled wildlife. Sandy Hook Bay is an environmentally sensitive area. We have a large population of grey, harbor, and harp seals, as well as migratory waterfowl, utilizing the bay this time of year.

Ways to help

Download the Marine Defender App Here: IPhone or IPad users can use the app to report any oil sightings.

Report oil sightings to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802

Report signs of oiled wildlife to us at 732-291-0055.

**If you observe any oiled wildlife, please do not approach or try to handle them. Approaching wildlife can further stress or harm the already injured animal.**

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings  of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay and Lower New York Bay, please check out  my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://www.natureontheedgenyc.com

An Oil Spill in Sandy Hook Bay

joe reynoldsAmid the holiday decorations, parties, and good cheer of December comes the horrifying news of an oil spill flowing and fouling once blue waters of Sandy Hook Bay, located at the mouth of New York Harbor. Hard to believe, there has not been an oil spill in these waters in some time, and the hope was there would not be another one.

The spill was discovered late Thursday afternoon on December 11, approximately 1.5 miles west near the northern tip of the Sandy Hook peninsula. The spill was about two miles long and about 400 yards wide. Brisk winds and choppy waves from a recent nor’easter along with nightfall and snow squalls made containment difficult.

bayshore oil slick 1

Coast Guard crews were booming off Horseshoe Cove, an environmentally sensitive area south of the slick, as a precaution from the oil reaching the shoreline. In these shallow waters can be found swimming shrimp, silversides, killifish, and hibernating Blue Crabs and Horseshoe Crabs. Yet, overnight the strong smell of oil was in the air at Sandy Hook, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

This is supposed to be a joyous season when Winter Flounder and Snowy Owls arrive, Humpback Whales are occasionally sighted off Sandy Hook and Sea Bright. Wintering ducks and geese come south from their nesting grounds up north to rest and feed around Lower New York Bay. Harbor and Gray Seals begin appearing around the estuary as they digest their food and rest and under the sun. During winter well over 300 Harbor and Gray seals will call these tidal waters home to feed on fish and shellfish and relax on remote beaches, rocks, and reefs.

Friday morning I headed down to Sandy Hook Bay to check on the damage. What I saw were well over 60 Harbor Seals resting on a distant beach in the bay. They looked happy and healthy for the moment. Resting, sleeping, and playing with the gulls flying above.

Unfortunately, in Spermaceti Cove at Sandy Hook, I spotted a lone male White-winged Scoter that was partially covered in oil. He was probably fishing for food near the tip of Sandy Hook. The poor bird had trouble flying far and high. The scoter tried to fly away, but its wings were too heavy from the oil and  he couldn’t fly anymore. The feeble bird just swam away to hid in the weeds. I contacted the good people at the American Littoral Society in hopes the bird could be saved.

bayshore oil slick 2

By late in the day on Friday, The U.S. Coast Guard was calling the oil spill a minor diesel fuel spill. It had reduced in size to one mile by 50 yards. State officials with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection  said it did not pose an environmental threat. Larry Ragonese, press director for NJ DEP said it was a “minor fuel sheen so thin that it cannot be collected.” The sheen is likely to evaporate by Saturday morning.

Yet, the jury is still out on what possible impacts this might have to local wildlife over the next few days, weeks or months. More time is needed to evaluate the problem. It’s too early to say if any wildlife were affected in the water or wetlands. Obviously at least one bird was affected by the spill. Were more birds in distress, but unobserved.  Floating oil can  also contaminate plankton, such as copepods which are plentiful in the winter,  and other small microscopic organisms in the water. Fish and whales feeding on these organisms can subsequently become contaminated through ingestion of contaminated prey or by direct toxic effects of oil. Seals too may be harmed if they eat lots of fish with oil in their body.

Of great concern still is the cause of this oil spill. At present, the Coast Guard says the exact source of the spill remains under investigation and is unknown. Theories abound, however, that the diesel spill was caused by nearby Earle Navy Base or by a one-time spill from a fishing boat.

No doubt, an oil spill is one of the worst ecologic disasters to happen in an aquatic ecosystem. No matter how big or small, an oil spill is a direct assault that degrades life-giving capacity for aquatic organisms. We need to stop having oil spills and start having more regard for preserving our precious waterways.

bayshore oil slick 3

The American Littoral Society is encouraging the public to keep their eyes on the water for signs of oil and oiled wildlife. Sandy Hook Bay is an environmentally sensitive area. We have a large population of grey, harbor, and harp seals, as well as migratory waterfowl, utilizing the bay this time of year.

Ways to help

Download the Marine Defender App Here: IPhone or IPad users can use the app to report any oil sightings.

Report oil sightings to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802

Report signs of oiled wildlife to us at 732-291-0055.

**If you observe any oiled wildlife, please do not approach or try to handle them. Approaching wildlife can further stress or harm the already injured animal.**

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings  of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay and Lower New York Bay, please check out  my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://www.natureontheedgenyc.com

A Seine Survey of Sandy Hook & Raritan Bays

joe reynoldsOn Saturday, June 7, 2014, volunteers with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, an all-volunteer environmental group dedicated to restoring Raritan Bay & Sandy Hook Bay, and members of the public participated in a hands-on program using a 50-foot long seine net to discover the diversity of aquatic life that lives along the edge of the bay.

The goal was to estimate the seasonal abundance and distribution of fish, crabs, and other estuarine species that use our local near shore estuarine waters as feeding and/or nursery areas, located downstream from New York City. In the past, volunteers have found a good assortment of local crabs and fish that people were able to see up close and touch.

Watershed members were citizen scientists. Volunteers sampled four sites along the bay (west to east), and made two to three hauls at each site with a seine net on an incoming tide. All fishes, crabs, and other aquatic creatures caught in the net were identified, measured, and cataloged; and returned to the water.

seine survey 1

 

A total of 18 different species were found. The list consists of 8 species of fish (including Striped Bass, Bluefish, Northern Puffer fish, and Fluke), six species of invertebrates (including Blue-claw Crabs, Hermit Crabs, and Shore Shrimps), and 3 species of jelly-like fish (including Salps, Moons, and Browns).  

There seemed to be a good variety and population of aquatic species, especially bait fish and juvenile fish existing near the edge of the bay. The clarity or turbidity of the water was murky and most sites. This might have been due to the buildup of phytoplankton and nutrients into the water. The mouth of Pews Creek was especially turbid, most likely from on-going beach replenishment activities at nearby Ideal Beach. Overall water quality appeared cloudy and turbid, but free from excessive amounts of seaweed.

seine survey 2

Air temperature was in the upper 70s to low 80s. Bay water temperatures were warm between 70 to 78 degrees F. Turbidity or clarity of the water was measured between less than a foot to 2 feet. Salinity was measured overall at around 20 ppt. Skies were sunny with a light westerly breeze.

The weather was beautiful and a wonderful day by the bay was had by all. Results can be found below:

seine survey 3

Cliffwood Beach/Aberdeen Township

10:00am

Water temperature = 70 degrees F.

Turbidity = 1.25 feet

Salinity = 20 ppt

Low Tide

200+ Mud Snails

25+ Shore & Sand Shrimp

10+ Hermit Crabs

10 Bay Anchovies

5 Atlantic Silversides or Spearing

2 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

2 juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke (About 2 inches long each)

2 juvenile Winter Flounder (About 2 inches long each)

Lots of Oyster Drill eggs masses

Conaskonck Point/Union Beach

12:00pm

Water Temperature = 74 degrees F.

Turbidity = 1.5 feet

Salinity = 27 ppt

Incoming Tide

200+ Juvenile Bluefish or Snappers (about 2 inches long)

100+ Bay Anchovies

5+ Hermit Crabs (including one without a shell)

1 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

1 juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke (about 6 inches in length)

1 adult Northern Puffer (about 10 inches in length)

Pews Creek/Port Monmouth/Middletown Township

2:00pm

Water Temperature = 78 degrees F.

Turbidity = less than one foot (water very cloudy most likely due to nearby beach replenishment activities at Ideal Beach)

Salinity = 19 ppt

Incoming Tide

200+ Bay Anchovies

100+ Mud Snails

60+ Hermit Crabs

40+ Sand & Shore Shrimp

10+ Salps

3 Windowpane flatfish

3 Juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke

1 juvenile Striped Bass (about 14 inches in length)

1 juvenile Blue-claw Crab

1 Moon Jelly

1 Brown Jelly

1 Bloodworm

Many Mind Creek/Atlantic Highlands

3:30pm

Water Temperature = 75 degrees F.

Turbidity = 2 feet

Salinity = 19 ppt

Incoming Tide

50+ Bay Anchovies

20+ juvenile Bluefish or Snappers (about 2 inches in length)

20+ Hermit Crabs

7 Shore & Sand Shrimp

2 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

A history of seine surveys results dating back to 2010 can be found at the Bayshore Watershed website at http://www.restoreourbay.org/current-projects/seine-the-bay-summer-survey/

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lower New York Bay, please check out my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://natureontheedgenyc.blogspot.com/

A Seine Survey of Sandy Hook & Raritan Bays

joe reynoldsOn Saturday, June 7, 2014, volunteers with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, an all-volunteer environmental group dedicated to restoring Raritan Bay & Sandy Hook Bay, and members of the public participated in a hands-on program using a 50-foot long seine net to discover the diversity of aquatic life that lives along the edge of the bay.

The goal was to estimate the seasonal abundance and distribution of fish, crabs, and other estuarine species that use our local near shore estuarine waters as feeding and/or nursery areas, located downstream from New York City. In the past, volunteers have found a good assortment of local crabs and fish that people were able to see up close and touch.

Watershed members were citizen scientists. Volunteers sampled four sites along the bay (west to east), and made two to three hauls at each site with a seine net on an incoming tide. All fishes, crabs, and other aquatic creatures caught in the net were identified, measured, and cataloged; and returned to the water.

seine survey 1

 

A total of 18 different species were found. The list consists of 8 species of fish (including Striped Bass, Bluefish, Northern Puffer fish, and Fluke), six species of invertebrates (including Blue-claw Crabs, Hermit Crabs, and Shore Shrimps), and 3 species of jelly-like fish (including Salps, Moons, and Browns).  

There seemed to be a good variety and population of aquatic species, especially bait fish and juvenile fish existing near the edge of the bay. The clarity or turbidity of the water was murky and most sites. This might have been due to the buildup of phytoplankton and nutrients into the water. The mouth of Pews Creek was especially turbid, most likely from on-going beach replenishment activities at nearby Ideal Beach. Overall water quality appeared cloudy and turbid, but free from excessive amounts of seaweed.

seine survey 2

Air temperature was in the upper 70s to low 80s. Bay water temperatures were warm between 70 to 78 degrees F. Turbidity or clarity of the water was measured between less than a foot to 2 feet. Salinity was measured overall at around 20 ppt. Skies were sunny with a light westerly breeze.

The weather was beautiful and a wonderful day by the bay was had by all. Results can be found below:

seine survey 3

Cliffwood Beach/Aberdeen Township

10:00am

Water temperature = 70 degrees F.

Turbidity = 1.25 feet

Salinity = 20 ppt

Low Tide

200+ Mud Snails

25+ Shore & Sand Shrimp

10+ Hermit Crabs

10 Bay Anchovies

5 Atlantic Silversides or Spearing

2 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

2 juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke (About 2 inches long each)

2 juvenile Winter Flounder (About 2 inches long each)

Lots of Oyster Drill eggs masses

Conaskonck Point/Union Beach

12:00pm

Water Temperature = 74 degrees F.

Turbidity = 1.5 feet

Salinity = 27 ppt

Incoming Tide

200+ Juvenile Bluefish or Snappers (about 2 inches long)

100+ Bay Anchovies

5+ Hermit Crabs (including one without a shell)

1 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

1 juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke (about 6 inches in length)

1 adult Northern Puffer (about 10 inches in length)

Pews Creek/Port Monmouth/Middletown Township

2:00pm

Water Temperature = 78 degrees F.

Turbidity = less than one foot (water very cloudy most likely due to nearby beach replenishment activities at Ideal Beach)

Salinity = 19 ppt

Incoming Tide

200+ Bay Anchovies

100+ Mud Snails

60+ Hermit Crabs

40+ Sand & Shore Shrimp

10+ Salps

3 Windowpane flatfish

3 Juvenile Summer Flounder or Fluke

1 juvenile Striped Bass (about 14 inches in length)

1 juvenile Blue-claw Crab

1 Moon Jelly

1 Brown Jelly

1 Bloodworm

Many Mind Creek/Atlantic Highlands

3:30pm

Water Temperature = 75 degrees F.

Turbidity = 2 feet

Salinity = 19 ppt

Incoming Tide

50+ Bay Anchovies

20+ juvenile Bluefish or Snappers (about 2 inches in length)

20+ Hermit Crabs

7 Shore & Sand Shrimp

2 juvenile Windowpane flatfish

A history of seine surveys results dating back to 2010 can be found at the Bayshore Watershed website at http://www.restoreourbay.org/current-projects/seine-the-bay-summer-survey/

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lower New York Bay, please check out my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://natureontheedgenyc.blogspot.com/

Testing the Health of Raritan & Sandy Hook Bays

joe_reynoldsSunday, September 16, 2012. It looked to be the most perfect day to be in the bay. The sun was out, the tides were low and there was a gentle breeze coming out of the north. Both air temperature and water temperature readings were in the 70s.  A good day to test the health of the bay.

Members of the Bayshore Watershed Council, an all volunteer group dedicated to restoring Raritan and Sandy Hook bays, were on hand along with several local residents to seine and monitor water quality by the side of four bayside beaches: Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen Township, Conaskonck Point in Union Beach, near the mouth of Pews Creek in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown Township, and near the mouth of Many Mind Creek in Atlantic Highlands.

The goal was to see if water quality in Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay, a gritty urban-suburban estuary downstream from New York City, was healthy during a late summer day. To do this, watershed members had to find out what might be living along the shallow edge of this estuary. It is along the edge of a sandy beach where most people swim and fish, and a good diversity of aquatic life should be found.

One way to discover how healthily a natural body of water might be is to conduct a biological test.  One of the best tests is through a seining program. Two people pull a long net through the shallow water to capture fish, crabs, and anything else that lives along the shallow edge of the bay, mostly small and juvenile animals. After recoding and taking a close look at what was found, participants then release the animals back into the water.

bayshore_watershed_volunteers_seining

Seining is like a taking a brief health check to see the abundance and diversity of who’s swimming in the water. In general, the more variety of life in the water, the healthy it is.

Watershed  volunteers were using a 50-foot long, hand-woven seine net with a five foot pole on each end. A seine is a net with a float line on top and a lead line on the bottom. The word seine is French, from the Latin sagëna, which means a fishing net designed to enclose fish. A seine net is an excellent tool for collecting fish, crabs, and aquatic animals with minimal injury to the animals. All  fishes, crabs, and other aquatic creatures can be easily identified, cataloged, and returned to the water.

bayshore_watershed_volunteers_fish

Among the catch was herring, including bluebacks and shad, by the hundreds, a half-a-dozen 4″ snapper blues, Atlantic silversides and striped killifish by the handful, some born just a few weeks earlier, a northern pipefish, several species of drums, lots of comb jellies, mole crabs, and mud snails, and a few skillet fish and juvenile blennies . There was also an assortment of crabs and shrimps: blue crabs, lady crabs, spider crabs, mud crabs, mole crabs, snapping shrimp and shore shrimp. It was a varied bag for sure.

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For some people, this was their first time exploring the bay for which they live so near. Yet everyone had fun discovering what interesting life lives in the bay. Many people also had a good time holding different species of fish, such as snapper blues and pipefish before releasing them into the estuary. Each haul of the seine net brought something new to reveal.

In spite of the diversity, though, the turbidity was poor. The water was cloudy and turbid, so much so that in some places you could only see a few inches down. Perhaps this was due to recent rains that had washed in an abundance of sand, sediment, and other substances, some possibly toxic. There could have also been an abundance of algae floating in the water. Whatever the reason, the water didn’t look fit for swimming.

Below are the details of the event. Species found and data collected are listed beneath each seine location. The weather was partly sunny with air temperatures in the low 70s. Winds were breezy out of the northwest. In addition to seining, water temperature and turbidity information were documented by volunteers at each site.

Thanks and appreciation goes to Frank from Aberdeen, Ron and his son from Hazlet, the Martin family from Oceanport, the Sheridan family from Keyport, and Kathy and Don from Aberdeen Township. Much obliged for all your wonderful help, time, and good spirits. 

 

 

10:00am Cliffwood Beach/Near the mouth of Whale Creek

Water Temperature: 72 degrees

1.5 ft turbidity

Outgoing tide

 

First Haul

22 Silversides or Spearing

2 Striped Killifish

1 Snapper Bluefish

 

Second Haul

1 Cunner

5 Sand Shrimp

13 Striped Killifish

7 Silversides

1 Pipefish

 

Third Haul

7 Bay Anchovies

10 YOY Silversides

Lots of Comb jellies

 

 

12 noon Conaskonck Point/Union Beach

Water Temperature: 74 degrees

1/2 foot turbidity

Outgoing tide

 First Haul

24 Silversides or Spearing

1 Snapping Shrimp

4 Hermit Crabs

4 Lady Crabs (all males)

1 Comb Jelly

1 Blue-claw Crab (male)

Lots of Shore Shrimp

 

Second Haul

4 Lady Crabs (male)

20 Silversides

1 Snapper Bluefish

1 Blueback Herring

2 juvenile blennies

10 Hermit Crabs

1 YOY Blue-claw Crab

 

2pm Near the Mouth of Pews Creek in Port Monmouth

Water Temperature: 72 degrees

1 foot turbidity

Low Tide

 

First haul

250+ Herring (a mixture of Blueback Herring and Hickory Shad species)

 

Second Haul

100+ Herring (a mixture of Blueback Herring and Hickory Shad species)

13 Silversides

4 Shore Shrimp

7 Lady Crabs

3 Comb jellies

Lots of Mud Snails

Lots of Hermit Crabs

25 Mole Crabs

 

4pm Near the Mouth of Many Mind Creek in Atlantic Highlands

Water Temperature; 76 degrees

1/2 foot turbidity

Incoming tide

 

First Haul

1 Pipefish

2 Skilletfish

10 Blueback Herring

25 Silversides or Spearing

30 Striped Killifish

Lots of Comb Jellies

Lots of Hermit Crabs

 

Second Haul

5 Silver Perch

3 Snapper Bluefish

40 Silversides

20 Striped Killifish

5 Black-tipped Mud Crabs

Lots of Comb Jellies

Lots of Mud Crabs

 

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay, please check out my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://natureontheedgenyc.blogspot.com/