From NJSGC’s 18th annual State of the Shore Report:
Current times remain daunting and uncertain for most. But take a moment to close your eyes and just imagine – sandy toes, sun-kissed skin, gentle gusts of the warm, salty air . . . That’s the epitome of summers spent at the Jersey Shore. Despite the future’s unknown, one thing remains for sure. The beaches await our return – under whatever circumstances that might be.
And according to New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium Coastal Processes Specialist Dr. Jon Miller (Stevens Institute of Technology), the Garden State’s coastline is ready for just that.
We’re conducting the 18th annual State of the Shore event a bit differently for 2020. Over the past several years, media representatives throughout the region have gathered with local experts at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club (located on the iconic Asbury Park boardwalk) to receive accurate, science-based information on current beach issues and outlooks, including preparations for the Jersey Shore’s upcoming summer tourism season. But just as with any passing storm, we must change and evolve with the turbulent tides. Although we cannot celebrate the start of summer “together,” NJSGC’s mission will always be to promote the wise use of New Jersey’s marine and coastal resources through research, education, and outreach (whether near, far, or socially distant).
Due to a relatively mild winter storm season, beaches are found to be in extremely good shape throughout New Jersey. Please read on for more detailed, in-depth analysis of coastal storm impacts (nuisance flooding, beach erosion) and tropical outlooks. With everything else going on right now, please do not forget that rip currents in the ocean pose a dangerous threat to all swimmers, regardless of age or gender. Please visit the NJSGC website to learn more about our revamped “Ocean Hazards & Beach Safety: Sharks vs. Rip Currents” initiative, including materials on our Rip Current Awareness program.
The Long-Clawed Hermit Crab (Pagurus longicarpus) – please use this template for guidance.
Have you ever walked through a shallow, intertidal beach and noticed a small, dark object moving along the sandy bottom? If so, chances are that you’ve seen a long-clawed hermit crab, one of many marine crustaceans found along the Jersey shore. A close relative of lobsters, long-clawed hermit crabs are invertebrates with exoskeletons that shed in order for the animal to grow. Like lobsters, long-clawed hermit crabs have two chelipeds (claws). but instead are narrow and unequal in size, with the right one growing larger than the left. They have five pairs of legs and use the first three pairs for walking; the fourth and fifth pairs are small and modified to hold into the gastropod (snail) shell that they carry on their backs. Hermit crabs “wear” unoccupied gastropod shells to protect their soft, elongated abdomens and will change shells when they outgrow the current one.
NJSGC Knauss Fellow Michael Acquafredda (Rutgers University, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory) enjoyed just six weeks at the Silver Spring office before having to telework. Thankfully, he’s still getting a lot accomplished remotely.
(To learn more about the 2020 Knauss Fellows from NJSGC, please click here)
Dealing with international affairs, Acquafredda has been busy working with the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). He works in the Secretariat, putting out newsletters, organizing meetings with its executive committee, and serving as a point of contact for its membership. He also supports the needs of some of the regional hubs of GOA-ON, including the Latin American Hub, the Pacific Islands Hub, and the North American Hub. Acquafredda acts as Coordinator for the GOA-ON Pier2Peer Program, a professional mentorship program. He continues reshaping the matching process to give mentees more opportunities to select mentors whose interests and expertise align with their own. Additionally, he publishes the monthly Pier Review, a newsletter that highlights the work of successful P2P pairs and shares information about relevant news and events, upcoming funding opportunities, and the latest ocean acidification-related open access articles.
He’s also been helping to organize the 5th International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World, which is now postponed. To maintain momentum, the symposium’s steering committee and the GOA-ON executive committee are discussing the possibility of hosting a virtual “Ocean Acidification Week”, which would be a series of publically-available webinars and panels. Acquafredda’s working hard to transform this idea into a well-organized and impactful event by September.
On the bilateral front, Acquafredda’s managing a joint funding initiative of NOAA OAP and DFO to enhance collaboration between ocean acidification researchers in the USA and Canada. He’s had the opportunity to write the RFP for this initiative, and is now reviewing proposals and organizing a selection panel.
Finally, his work around capacity building efforts in the Pacific Islands has been slow and limited, mostly due to COVID-19 related delays. The funding from the Department of State was secured, so now they’re working towards distributing funds to its partner, The Ocean Foundation.
Along with all of those initiatives, Acquafredda is also busy with the domestic side of his portfolio. He’s working closely with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Acidification Network (GCAN). The team is restructuring that network to encourage better communication and more robust engagement by its members via the Ocean Acidification Information Exchange (OAIE). Acquafredda also restarted GCAN’s webinar series and so far has hosted two, with more to come.
The activity most exciting for Acquafredda has been working to develop a new NOFO aimed at studying multistressor impacts on shellfish aquaculture. OAP is looking to use a co-production of knowledge framework to fund collaborations between growers and academics to produce both foundational data and industry-relevant deliverables.
He’s also been active with some of the Knauss Committees. Acquafredda’s most involved with the Lunch and Learn Committee that works with the NOAA Central Library System to host monthly webinars that highlight the work of Knauss Fellows. He also gave a talk in March (right when COVID started), which is archived on Youtube.
He’s also involved with the Knauss JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) Committee. In light of the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests calling for an end to racial injustice in our country, the committee created a document of resources many may find useful. JEDI Committee members are also reaching out to individual Sea Grant programs and inquiring about the different ways these state programs address JEDI issues in their activities, with a particular focus on recruitment activities regarding the Knauss Fellowship.
Although it’s really unfortunate that the two components of the fellowship Acquafredda was most excited about (the travel and in-person networking) have been thwarted by COVID-19, he’s making the most of this opportunity and still learning a lot about working in the marine policy realm.
The Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia) is a resident species and is one of the most abundant fish found in NJ’s estuaries and nearshore habitats. They have long slender bodies that are grey-green above and pale colored below with a distinct silver band that runs along each side (giving it the name “silverside”). Silversides are small, growing only up to 6 inches in length, and can often be found schooling in shallow waters. Commonly called “spearing” or “shiners” by fishers that use them for bait, silversides are consumers in the marine food web because they feast on the tiny phytoplankton and zooplankton that drift with the currents. Their small mouths lack teeth and are positioned upwards at the end of their snouts so that they can grab food that floats or swims above them. Females are usually larger than males and during the spawning season (May, June, early July) will deposit egg clusters on sandy bottoms. Silversides are sensitive to fluctuations in salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature, so they are an important species in helping scientists study environmental change.
Did you know…
Atlantic silversides can live up to two years, but most only make it to one year.
Silverside eggs that hatch in cooler water will develop into females, and those that hatch in warmer water will develop into males.
Silversides are an important food source for other marine animals in the estuary, and are eaten by everything from bluefish and striped bass to sea birds and crabs.
Please use this template for the #SeaCreaturesInYourNeighborhood challenge (learn more here).
VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR NJSGC’S FULL LIST OF WINNERS.
Voting for NJSGC’s “Jersey Shore” photo contest is now underway! Thanks to everyone who entered – the design team received over 100 extraordinary images, and it was very difficult to narrow it down to just 27 finalists.
Fans can now select up to three of their favorite snapshots displayed below. The 12 photos with the most votes will be used for New Jersey Sea Grant’s 2021 desktop calendar. Winning photographers will also receive an enlarged glossy poster of their amazing work. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to view all finalists, please vote here!
What you need to know heading into the Summer Season with NJSGC… view the latest edition of the “COASTodian” here.
Favorite Beaches survey State of the Shore update Jersey Shore photo contest Virtual “Sharks vs. Rip Currents” Ocean Fun Days update Knauss Fellow diaries Seabeach Amaranth feature Jersey Shore Junior Science Symposium follow-up #SeaCreaturesInYourNeighborhood campaign
More and more coastal towns in New Jersey are making space for seabeach amaranth – a small but mighty native plant – thanks to work New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium supported back in 2016. With a grant provided by NJSGC, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) began implementing so-called “compromise” beach management plans. The compromise: towns set aside 10 percent of their beach for conservation – just a narrow strip in back where few people linger because the sand is too hot – and they continue with “normal” beach business as usual on the remaining 90 percent (raking, driving, sand castles, etc).
Doing so helps strengthen the coast by making space for a species that provides the foundation for natural dune-building to begin. Last year was a banner year for seabeach amaranth in New Jersey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now supporting an expansion of the PPA’s work with communities.
Learn more about the full story here (from “Conserving the Nature of the Northeast”).
The Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) – please use this template for guidance.
“Memorial Day is the start of the beach season at the Jersey Shore, and no sound is more iconic to beachgoers than the call of the laughing gull (click on this link to hear one). Like many vacationers, laughing gulls are regular visitors to NJ’s beaches, marshes, and back bays throughout the summer and fall. These medium-sized birds are relatives to lesser black-backed and Bonaparte’s gulls, which they can be found in congregation with along coastal areas of NJ. Adults have black heads, thin white eye crescents, and red bills which make them easy to identify. If you notice a laughing gull extending and lowering its neck, calling, and then throwing its head backwards, it is displaying a threatening behavior and alerting other gulls to stay away. This is also an important reminder for all beachgoers to practice social distancing!”
Did you know…
– Laughing gulls are opportunistic feeders. They eat snails, insects, crabs, squid, garbage, and anything else they can get their beaks on – including the snacks they steal from your beach bag!
– During the spring nesting season, male and female laughing gulls build their nest together where the female will lay 2-4 brown with black-speckled eggs.
– The oldest known laughing gull lived to be 22 years old!
Check out this cool video – and happy Memorial Day weekend!
For more information on NJSGC’s #SeaCreaturesInYourNeighborhood campaign, please click here.