Thursday, November 7, 2019

Gandy's Beach Preserve Breakwater Project

Photo credit: Adrianna Zito-Livingston/The Nature Conservancy
Gandy's Beach is a Nature Conservancy Preserve along an area of undeveloped shoreline on the Delaware Bay that provides valuable habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. Its shore has been increasingly vulnerable to coastal erosion and was considerably impacted by storm surge from Hurricane Sandy.

This project includes the building of a shell-based living shoreline one mile offshore that will act as a breakwater and protect about one mile of sandy beach shoreline and adjacent salt marsh.

Oyster castles   Credit: Mary Conti/TNC
In 2016, TNC installed a half-mile oyster reef breakwater at the Gandy’s Beach preserve, as a means of combatting erosion and creating habitat for marine life at the site.

As of December 2017, they report about a 50% reduction in wave energy during the tidal cycle, and sand has been building up behind the structures. The reef has been colonized by about 1 million oysters, is filtering more than 1 million gallons of water per submerged hour during summer months and is helping 4,330 new fish mature every year. Blue crab, black drum, northern kingfish, weakfish, summer flounder, black sea bass, and white perch have all been recorded at the site.

The first phase of the Hurricane Sandy-funded living shoreline installation in Downe Township, New Jersey, part of the Gandy’s Beach shoreline protection project, was completed in October 2015.

For three days, partners and local volunteers placed a combination of “oyster castles” and bagged oyster shells created by local schools, just offshore. The "castles" are stackable, interlocking blocks of concrete, limestone, crushed shell and silica that encourage oyster larvae to settle.

Partner organizations monitor the integrity of the structure. This work will help stabilize approximately 3,000 feet of beach and tidal marsh shoreline, allowing the coast to heal itself.

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