Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Marine Academy of Science and Technology Recognized by New Jersey Audubon and National Wildlife Federation with Eco-Schools Award

Dune restoration by students at Sandy Hook  - Photo via

Marine Academy of Science and Technology (M.A.S.T.) is a co-ed four-year high school, grades 9-12. It is one of five career academies administered by the Monmouth County Vocational School District. The Marine Academy is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. The school's curriculum focuses on marine sciences and marine technology/engineering.

The school was recognized by New Jersey Audubon and National Wildlife Federation with an Eco-Schools Award.  MAST students developed and implemented a plan to increase dune vegetation lost in Hurricane Sandy. The dunes are natural line of defense in protecting coastal communities during hurricanes and other storms.

On Sandy Hook, waves and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy badly damaged the dunes and the students identified one damaged area of particular ecological importance in an area within the park called the “critical zone.” This zone is the thinnest area and susceptible to overwash and flooding from storm events.

Working under the supervision of the National Park Service, the students planted over 1,000 dune grass plants over a span of 3,000 feet along the beaches of Sandy Hook.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program is run by New Jersey Audubon in our state with a goal to engage schools in efforts to improve student environmental literacy and skills. The MAST dune restoration project earned them the Bronze Award.

MAST students participate in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) in lieu of Physical Education. The school is is located in the Fort Hancock Historic Area at the tip of Sandy Hook, sothe project was very "local." Their campus is adjacent to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the country.

Friday, December 1, 2017

When a Bald Eagle Is On a Crosswalk in Bayonne

In early November, a bald eagle landed at Ninth Street and Avenue A in Bayonne and took a limping walk around the neighborhood. Bayonne is not a typical place for an eagle and walking is not a typical way for an eagle to travel.

At that time, November 10, the eagle was not captured or examined up close, but appeared to be injured or very weak.

Then, on November 17, the same eagle was located in a yard in Staten Island. It was unable to fly. The homeowner called the Staten Island Zoo, which contacted the Raptor Trust in Millington, NJ where the bird was brought.

The bird was banded as a nestling in Virginia in 2009. It was reported to be blind in one eye from an old injury.

Bald eagles were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007. They are currently listed as endangered (breeding season) and threatened (non-breeding season) in New Jersey. But they are an important success story for New Jersey's endangered species program. In 1982, there was one nest in the state and in 2016 there were 172 eagle nests.

The Bayonne bird is reported to be gaining strength. The Raptor Trust suspects that lead poisoning may be what caused the bird's weakness.  Eagles when scavenging can get lead poisoning from eating an animal that was shot with lead ammunition as well as drinking lead in water.

NJ Joins The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

As of today, December 1, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife will have a new tool to use in its ongoing efforts to enforce wildlife laws as the state joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

The compact – first developed in western states in the mid-1980s – recognizes the importance of deterrence through the suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and privileges in all member states resulting from violations concerning the pursuit, possession or taking of a wide range of wildlife, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, shellfish, and crustaceans.

“This cooperative and proactive interstate strategy will greatly enhance our Division of Fish and Wildlife’s ability to protect and manage our wildlife resources,” said Commissioner Martin. “Any person who has their license privileges suspended in one member state may now also have them suspended in all other member states. In addition, the compact prevents convicted poachers who are under revocation in one state from hunting, fishing, or trapping in other states.”

For the purposes of the compact, the term “license” means any license, permit, or other public document which conveys to the person to whom it was issued the privilege of pursuing, possessing, or taking any wildlife regulated by statute, law, regulation, ordinance, or administrative rule of a participating state.

In New Jersey this definition includes but is not limited to: all-around sportsman, firearm hunting, trapping, bow and arrow, freshwater fishing, recreational crab pot, non-commercial crab dredge and shellfish licenses, various hunting and trapping permits, pheasant & quail and New Jersey waterfowl stamps, striped bass bonus tags, and saltwater registry certificates.

License and privilege suspensions resulting from wildlife violations committed on or after December 1, 2017 in New Jersey may result in the reciprocal suspension of license privileges in member states.  If a person plans to hunt, fish, or trap in another state, and has a license privilege suspension in New Jersey, it is their responsibility to contact the other state to verify if they may legally hunt, fish, or trap there.

New Jersey residents who fail to comply with the terms of a citation or summons issued for a wildlife violation in another member state may face a $50 fine and the suspension of all privileges to take or possess wildlife in New Jersey until the citation has been satisfied. Failing to appear in court or to otherwise answer a ticket or summons issued for such violations will also result in license, permit, and privilege suspension.

“Our agency has been charged with managing New Jersey’s wildlife resources for 125 years and we take this responsibility very seriously,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “Joining the compact protects New Jersey’s wildlife resources and that of member states by deterring violators from continuing their illegal activities and sends a clear message to all that such behavior will not be tolerated.”

The concept of a wildlife violator compact was first advanced in the early 1980s by member states in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In 1985 draft compacts were developed independently in Colorado and Nevada. Subsequently, these drafts were merged and the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was created.

For more information, see the DEP news release at

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hey, What's That Animal in the Backyard?

I get a good number of photos from people in New Jersey who have seen an animal or bird in their neighborhood that seems "out of place." Sometimes I can identify them as unusual - though not rare, threatened or endangered - species.

Some of the sender claims are not likely to be accurate. I have gotten everything from a moose to a Jersey Devil sighting over the years of this site.

This week's most recent submission are the two photos below sent without explanation and labeled simply as being from Roxbury, NJ.

What is your guess for this visitor?
Post your guess as a comment

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Endangered Sturgeon and the Delaware River

Atlantic sturgeon at the Northeast Fishery Center are part of a project to raise sturgeon from egg through sexual maturity. If successful, the Fishery Centers work will provide a roadmap to the development  of domestic broodstock and help in efforts to restore Atlantic sturgeon to their native range. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Sturgeon is not a fish many people know about because you don't often see the fish in stores or on menus. But a century ago an estimated 180,000 female Atlantic sturgeon lived in the Delaware River. Those females produced enough eggs, sold as caviar, to make the Delaware River and Bay area the caviar capital of America.

The fish is also smoked and eaten worldwide, though not as popular as it was in the late 1800s and early 20th century.

In 1890, an estimated 6 million pounds of the 7 million pounds of sturgeon caught on the East Coast came from Delaware Bay.

Sturgeon are now endangered there since 2012 when less than 300 spawning sturgeon were believed to be in the Delaware River.

Are they recovering? A piece on asks if enough being done or in other words, is a fishing moratorium enough to have them make a comeback, or is further intervention needed?

NOAA Fisheries Service reports led to five population segments of the Atlantic sturgeon being listed as endangered species. The New York Bight population segment found in the Delaware River and the Hudson River is one of the five.

Since caviar and sturgeon as food are not the industry they once were, what threatens the species? Vessel strikes are a big factor along with low water quality in rivers, dredging projects and accidental catching.

In New Jersey, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has placed acoustic receivers in Delaware Bay to track the sturgeon's migration patterns for the endangered population.