Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Protecting The Coast

The American Littoral Society promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm, and empowers others to do the same. Littoral is defined as "of or existing on a shore."

The group has been working since 1961 to care for the coasts through integrated programs focused on advocating, conserving, and learning.

They might restore habitat, but their objective is not only to replant dune grass or reseed an oyster bed, but also to motivate people to invest “sweat equity” into a piece of the coast, take ownership and become committed stewards.

The Society's Mid-Atlantic chapter has many local activities that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland and the headquarters office is on Sandy Hook in Highlands, New Jersey.

In July, one project is helping to restore the oyster reef habitat in Delaware Bay as part of their Project PORTS. Volunteers will help deploy 10-lb. shell bags which were constructed by local school children into the bay as part of an oyster restoration project. The bags will serve as a settlement surface/habitat for oyster larvae. Later in the summer the young oysters will be transplanted to a State-designated conservation reef site. "Project PORTS: Promoting Oyster Restoration Through Schools" is a partnership project of Rutgers University’s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory and the American Littoral Society.

The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is one of--if not the most--important species in the Delaware Estuary. For thousands of years, the oyster has served as the keystone organism in the estuary, positively influencing water quality and providing food, habitat, and refuge to a host of dependent organisms. Challenged by disease, habitat deterioration, and overfishing, the resource is now only a fraction of what it once was.

In addition to restoring historic oyster populations in Delaware Bay, Project PORTS educated K-12 school communities in New Jersey's Delaware Bay Shore region and involves them in the actual restoration of the species. The strategy of Project PORTS is to promote inquiry-based, hands-on activities that present basic scientific concepts and emphasize the local significance of the issue.

Some other projects are:

Protecting Delaware Bay: Learn about the unique coastal waterways and wildlife of New Jersey’s "other" coast, the threats to this coastal wilderness, and tools and resources you can use to help protect and preserve it.

Protecting Barnegat Bay: Get news and information about issues that impact Barnegat Bay and the Barnegat Bay watershed and what you can do to help this exceptional coastal resource.

If you are interested in joining the Society or joining them on a field trip, here are some upcoming events. These events do have a participation fee.

July 18, Fossil Hunting - Wade through Big Brook and sift for shark"s teeth, squid guards and fossilized mollusks. This is one of the best areas in the country to search for Cretaceous Era fossils. Be prepared to get wet and muddy, but the prizes are well worth it. We"ll bring the necessary gear and you bring footwear for muddy banks and shallow water. Great for families.

July 21 & August 4, 18, Family Exploration of Sandy Hook - Bring the kids any of these Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. to explore some part of Sandy Hook. We will pull a seine net, use glass bottom buckets to search for critters in their own habitat, look at plankton and sand through microscopes, explore the dunes, pull up our "fish condo" to see what has moved in, and more. Each Tuesday will be its own adventure so come join us with the kiddies.

August 29, Fluke Tagging Trip - Join their fish tagging director for a day of fishing and tagging. Boat departs 7:00 am from Atlantic Highlands municipal marina. $65 per angler –all tackle, bait, and tags will be provided. Advance payment required. Space is limited.

More local trips at

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