Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Want To Be A Spill Spotter?

I can't believe that it has been two years since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When that happened, there was even talk that if it wasn't capped some of the oil would be making it up the Atlantic coast to NJ waters.

NJ doesn't allow offshore drilling currently. But the Delaware and Raritan bays are very active ports and our oil refineries bring tankers in loading and unloading petroleum and other chemicals. So, NJ is vulnerable and should be prepared.

The American Littoral Society has a "Spill Spotters" program in which they train volunteer citizens and community groups to recognize and respond to signs of an oil spill.

I only just became aware of the program via the NJ Conservation blog and the first of the three-hour workshops just took place on Delaware Bay, Barnegat Bay and on Raritan Bay.

But more are planned over the summer and The Littoral Society is looking for individuals, as well as teachers, scout leaders and other community activists who can, in turn, pass the knowledge on to those interested in coastal protection. The workshops are active learning with seine nets, clam rakes and binoculars. Participants learn to how to collect baseline data on birds, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, worms and other creatures living in and around coastal waters, since knowing the normal background conditions will help them detect problems in the future.

Individuals and groups can then "adopt" spots along bays or estuaries, collect biological data with the help of American Littoral Society staff members. It's a good volunteer opportunity and a great way to learn more about your local waterways.

The Spill Spotters use an oil spill response toolkit and have information for reporting problems, but their job is not remediation (such as caring for oil-soaked birds) although they can get that training too if they're interested.

For more information about the Spill Spotters program and to find a workshop near you, visit or contact Stevie Thorsen at or 732-291-0055.

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