Saturday, July 12, 2014

Whales Off the NJ Coast This Month May Be Threatened By Research

Eubalaena glacialis with calf.jpg

RIGHT WHALE Eubalaena glacialis with calf. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent whale sightings off Deal and Lavalette are a reminder that whales are in the middle of their annual migration north past our beaches. Seeing a humpback breaching the surface and landing with thunderous splashes is still rare enough to be news, but the whales are out there.

In what may seem surprising, some environmental groups have opposed a recent "climate change" study by Rutgers University because of whales and other marine mammals.

Environmentalists have joined Governor Chris Christie in opposing research funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and conducted by Rutgers University and the University of Texas. They planned to to send ear-shattering sound blasts to the ocean floor off the New Jersey shore to create three-dimensional images of sediment lying thousands of feet beneath the seabed. This will supposedly help determine how the coastline has advanced and retreated during times of historic climate change.

But many environmental groups and some commercial and recreational fishing interests argue that the study would harm dolphins, whales, and other marine life by subjecting them to sounds blasts of 250 decibels or more every five seconds for 34 days.

Cassandra Ornell, a staff scientist for Clean Ocean Action, a coalition of more than 125 groups, conceded that opposing a federally funded climate change study “is kind of unusual for us.”

Whales are more plentiful off the Jersey coast now because of the annual spring migration from their southern winter grounds to their northern summer grounds.

Sightings have been of the dramatic humpback whale. They are feeding on small schooling fishes, such as menhaden (aka bunker). We also have right whales, minke whales and fin whales passing by our coast, though those species tend to stay further offshore.

The research is also of concern because humpbacks are traveling with calves.

Right whale size.svg
 Size compared to an average human - via Wikimedia Commons.

Fishermen can encounter whales while fishing on top of schools of bunker for striped bass. This occurred this summer off Asbury Park when fisherman met up with a fin whale.

The right whale, in particular, is considered highly endangered and boaters are supposed to keep a distance of 100+ feet from all whales and 500 yards from right whales.

The seriously endangered right whale (whose name came from whalers who said it was the "right" whale to hunt) are estimated at only 300 living mainly off the eastern coast of the United States and Canada. The right whale was friendly, slow swimming, floated when killed, and yielded lots of oil and baleen and whalers killed thousands of them. The population in the North Atlantic is the most endangered in the world.

Federally Endangered Whales That Migrate Past NJ
Whale, North Atlantic right**Eubalaena glacialis**
Whale, blue**Balaenoptera musculus**
Whale, fin**Balaenoptera physalus**
Whale, humpback**Megaptera novaeangliae**
Whale, sei**Balaenoptera borealis**

Monday, July 7, 2014

Report Rare Wildlife Sightings in NJ

Pine snake in the sand of the Pinelands
This site gets mail almost every week from someone who spotted a bobcat, an eagle, an 8 foot pine snake or some other rare species somewhere in New Jersey.

The NJ DEP Endangered and Nongame Species Program actually has a report form for those rare wildlife sightings.

The information compiled by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) is a powerful conservation tool for land-users and natural area managers. With accurate information, conservation action can be focused on our most important natural areas.

If you have information on the location of a rare animal and would like to help us build the Natural Heritage inventory, please complete the form. This data helps develop critical habitat mapping and a look at habitat and population trends, and ultimately helps to develop conservation strategies for endangered and threatened species.

1. Fill out the sighting report form (There is also one for Marine Wildlife Sightings.)
2. Mark location of sighting on map
3. Mail or email completed survey

The term "Species of Special Concern" applies to species that warrant special attention because of some evidence of decline, inherent vulnerability to environmental deterioration, or habitat modification that would result in their becoming a Threatened species. This category would also be applied to species that meet the foregoing criteria and for which there is little understanding of their current population status in the state.

NJ Endangered and Threatened Species List
NJ Species of Special Concern
NJ Species Status Listing (Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ site)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Testing the Waters at the Jersey Shore

Testing the Waters is a guide to water quality at vacation beaches. The state summary for New Jersey ranked our state third in beach water quality (out of 30 states. Only 3% of samples exceeded the national Beach Action Value for designated beach areas in 2013.

New Jersey has public beaches lining 127 miles of the Atlantic coast. The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program (CCMP), which is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, conducts quality monitoring from mid-May to mid-September.

You can find daily activity reports, including beach closings and advisories, at (the CCMP website). As I write this, the Jersey shore beaches are all green lights and open.

In 2013, New Jersey reported 492 coastal beaches and beach segments, 288 of which were monitored. New Jersey also has "bracket" beaches that are adjacent to regularly monitored beaches; if high bacteria concentrations are found at a regularly monitored station, sampling is conducted at bracket stations to determine the extent of the affected area.

That 3% number means that of all reported beach monitoring samples, 3% exceeded the Beach Action Value (BAV) of 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units (cfu) per 100 ml marine or estuarine water in a single sample.

The 4 beaches in NJ that did exceed the rate with the highest percentages in 2013 were Berkeley Township at Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County (52%), Neptune Township at Shark River Beach and Yacht in Monmouth County (20%), Berkeley Township at West Beach Avon Road in Ocean County (18%), and Brick Township at Windward Beach in Ocean County (17%).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Exhibition of NJ Threatened and Endangered Species Artwork

“The Best of Species on the Edge,” an exhibition of artwork by New Jersey fifth graders, will be on display in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, through Friday, August 29.

The artwork focuses on the state’s endangered and threatened wildlife and features work submitted by the state’s fifth-grade students. Conserve Wildlife’s Maria Grace selected the best of the submissions from 2008 to 2013 from every New Jersey county.

2014 calendar cover - “Atlantic Green Sea Turtle” by Roslynn Jumbo
The artwork includes images of the Pine Barrens tree frog, peregrine falcon, shortnose sturgeon, and timber rattlesnake.

D&R Greenway exhibits this art annually, joining with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, to call attention to the urgency and importance of preserving Garden State habitat for all creatures. New Jersey is home to over 80 endangered and threatened species of wildlife. It is not unusual for this contest to result in over 2,000 entries.

At the Olivia Rainbow Gallery, D&R Greenway Land Trust - open for viewing weekdays during business hours. Admission is free, open to public, no need to call for availability. Free copies of the calendar may be obtained at the gallery.

more information
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of N.J.
D&R Greenway Land Trust, call (609) 924-4646, or visit:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Passaic River Mudflat Cleanup First Phase Completed

Over 16,000 cubic yards of toxic sediment have been removed from a 6 acre mudflat along the Passaic River near Lyndhurst.

Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, Jeff Tittel says that the cleanup“is an important step forward in finally getting the cleanup process going. It has taken far too long to start the cleanup, but at least it is beginning to happen. The Passaic River has been polluted for too many decades with this dioxin and other industrial discharges. It is good the cleanup is starting, however compared to what needs to be done it is like emptying a beach with a child’s pale and shovel. One day hopefully the whole river will be cleaned up, including the 17.5 miles which is not part of this first phase of the cleanup. For far too long polluters have robed the River that belongs to all of us and this is a start of one of those milestones to bring the River back to the community."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Free Fishing Days This Weekend June 14-15

In its annual weekend event to introduce freshwater fishing to families and novices across the state, the Christie Administration is holding Free Fishing Days on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15.

On these two special days, anglers have the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest freshwater fishing in the Northeast without needing to purchase a license or a trout stamp. The weekend event is designed to get families hooked on a new, exciting activity, while also giving out-of-state visitors a chance to sample New Jersey’s waters for fishing.

“This is a great opportunity for kids and families to learn about the pleasures of fishing and enjoy time together at some of the many great fishing spots we have in New Jersey’s state, county and local parks, and our vast natural areas,’’said DEP Commissioner Martin. “Free Fishing Days also gives us an opportunity to spread the word about the exceptional fishing here in New Jersey to out-of-state anglers, many of whom come here for their free fishing opportunity every June.’’

Free Fishing Days are held annually and compliments National Fishing and Boating Week, which also occurs each June. While no license or trout stamp is needed, other regulations, including size and daily catch limits remain in effect.

"New Jersey has some of the best freshwater fishing in the Northeast and Free Fishing Days are a great opportunity to sample it,” said New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “This is a weekend where fishing licenses are not required and an excellent way for first-timers and even entire families to kick back, relax, and take advantage of spending some quality time in the great outdoors.”

“Muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish and hybrid striped bass fisheries are now thriving and New Jersey anglers routinely catch many world-class sized fish,” he added.

New Jersey offers every type of fishing for every level of angler. Outstanding statewide fisheries for largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel and numerous pan fish species round out the fishing choices available.

For more information on Free Fishing Days, visit:

There you will also find three regional brochures to help you find lakes and ponds with public fishing access close to home. These “Great Fishing Close to Home” brochures contain information on each water body's acreage, the nearest town, site amenities, boat and shoreline fishing, the fish available and fishing tips for each species.

These brochures focus primarily on lakes and ponds with warm-water and cool-water fisheries. A comprehensive list of 'Where to' and 'how to' trout fishing information, including directions to more than 300 trout fishing access points, is also available on the Fish and Wildlife website at

For those with mobile devices, the free Pocket Ranger® New Jersey Fish and Wildlife application is a cutting-edge mobile app that provides on-the-spot information on the state’s fish species and how and where to fish for them.

The app also has powerful GPS capabilities and is a comprehensive information source for all the state’s fish and wildlife species and provides extensive mapping of public open spaces and access points for hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife watching. Both Apple and Android versions of the app can be downloaded at .

Anglers are urged to respect private landowners who allow fishing on their properties by obeying boundary signs and not littering. Fishing regulations can be obtained through the Pocket Ranger® New Jersey Fish and Wildlife application, online at, or the 2014 NJ Freshwater Fishing Digest available for free at Fish and Wildlife offices or where fishing licenses are sold.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Moon Garden

Some people plant moon gardens. The idea is to grow plants with leaves and flowers of white, silvery and gray that will catch the moonlight - and look white and "lunar" white even in daylight or electric illumination.

Popular spring plants for a moon garden:
  • Daffodil (Narcissus) ‘Mount Hood’, ‘Cheerfulness,’ or ‘Stainless’
  • Tulip ‘String of Pearls’, ‘Maureen,’ or ‘Mount Tacoma’
  • Hyacinth ‘White Pearl’ or ‘Carnegie’
  • Bleeding Hearts ‘Alba’
  • Candytuft
  • Lilies of the Valley
  • Sweet alyssum
  • white snapdragons, 
  • some iris, delphiniums, lupines, crocuses and snowdrops.

To keep going into summer:
  • Coneflower ‘White Swan’
  • Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ or ‘White Swan’
  • Butterfly bush ‘White Profusion’
  • Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba)
  • ‘Alba’ four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)
  • White flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
  • ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental lilies
  • Rose ‘Iceberg’, ‘Lace Cascade’,‘Sally Holmes Antique Climbing’ or ‘Lady Banks White’

Late Summer/ Fall Flowers:
  • Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’
  • Dahlias ‘White Perfection’ ‘Eternal Snow’ and ‘Playa Blanca’

White Gardens - How to Make a Stunning Moon Garden

The Twilight Garden: Creating a Garden That Entrances by Day and Comes Alive at Night

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease Season

We probably wish they were endangered, but as people in the Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic know, deer ticks that carry Lyme and other diseases are growing their populations. Humans are the ones in danger.

Right now is the worst season (May & June). The adolescent “nymphal” ticks are out in force and looking for you.

They are about the size of a poppy seed but you won't spot them in the leaf litter and shady leaf borders where they are now.

Last summer, the Center for Disease Control adjusted upward its estimate of Lyme disease prevalence by a factor of 10, to about 300,000 American cases a year.

In most cases, the disease can be treated with antibiotics IF it is diagnosed and treated promptly. But 10 to 20 percent of cases are not discovered early or do not respond to to antibiotics.

The recommended prevention includes:
  • Spray your shoes with repellent containing Permethrin because nymphal-stage deer ticks are in leaf litter, and so as your shoes move through the leaf litter, that’s where those ticks take hold.
  • Spray your pant treating the inside as well as the outside.
  • Use your dryer as soon as you come inside. 10 minutes on high heat should desiccate any ticks you might carry in.
  • Make sure that your dog has effective quick kill product on it like Advantix II or Seresto collars 
  • You don't have to out in the woods to encounter ticks. Suburban backyards are also breeding places. Take precautions and if you spray, killing black-legged ticks requires a synthetic pyrethroid. Greener alternatives are appearing but are not proven as effective yet.

Research has shown that days of low humidity will start to kill of populations.