May 19, 2016 |
A car door slammed on South Reeds Beach Road, and 300 feeding shorebirds - ruddy turnstones, sandpipers, and red knots - took wing, shrieking out over the Delaware Bay. The commotion caught the attention of Rutgers University biologist Joanna Burger. She rose from the nearby bulkhead where she was monitoring an experiment, and started walking over. All seemed calm on this Middle Township beach in Cape May County. And yet there is growing tension here between economics and ecology, conservationist and oyster farmer.
May 17, 2016
Lapped by barely audible waves, the Delaware Bay beaches seem peaceful, but they are the scene of a roaring man-vs.-nature struggle. Oyster farmers are vying with red knots, a threatened bird species, for the shoreline where the migrating avians stop and feed before continuing their epic journey from South America to the Arctic. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently granted the farmers a permit to encroach on the birds' feeding grounds. But the shore is big enough to accommodate both.
May 4, 2015
The Narrow Edge A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab and an Epic Journey By Deborah Cramer Yale University Press. $28. 304 pp. Deborah Cramer's riveting story of a small shorebird begins with loss: loss of large numbers of birds, of beach and mudflat, of its food, "and a slide toward extinction. " Grim stuff. But in Cramer's able hands, the story of the red knot - a bird inextricably linked with the Delaware Bay and its horseshoe crabs - becomes a scientific page-turner, full of intricacies and astonishment.
March 24, 2015 |
The fates of a migratory shorebird, horseshoe crabs, and the state's oyster industry have converged at the center of a debate over how each should be accommodated where they come together every spring, in New Jersey tidal flats along the Delaware Bay. Wildlife advocates hope to restore the dwindling population of red knots, small birds that federal authorities listed as a threatened species about three months ago. The bird's round-trip migration of...
September 28, 2014 |
LOWER TOWNSHIP, N.J. - They look like tiny coriander seeds. And 6,000 of them can easily fit into the bottom of a half-dozen buckets filled with seawater. But the young horseshoe crabs released into the Cape May Canal on Friday, as part of the 26th anniversary of National Estuaries Day, are the essentials of a grow-and-release program at the Rutgers Aquaculture Innovation Center here. The project, called the Horseshoe Crab Enhancement Initiative, helps boost the population of the 450-million-year-old species in the Delaware Bay - an East Coast hot spot for horseshoe crabs - and provides a baseline for further study of the ecologically critical and commercially key marine arthropods.
October 16, 2013 |
The red knot has never lacked for friends - or in recent years, for mourners. Over the last decade, biologists, birders, and grade-schoolers have lamented the decline of the robin-size shorebird, which makes one of the longest migrations on the planet - from the tip of South America to its nesting grounds in the Arctic, stopping in spring to refuel on horseshoe crab eggs on Delaware Bay. Now, it is getting a federal lift as well. Recently, after years of appeals and petitions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the red knot as a threatened species.
June 1, 2013 |
For more than 15 years, University of Delaware researcher Nancy Targett has been on an odd quest to identify what it is about horseshoe crab scent that makes the crab such alluring bait - for eels and whelks. Alas, she never succeeded. She still doesn't know what precisely constitutes eau de crab. But this week, she and other officials announced a breakthrough that could help solve one of fishery management's knottiest problems - how to lessen the harvest of crabs to save the birds that feed on their eggs, yet still allow watermen who use them as bait to make a living.
May 20, 2013 |
A rare shorebird that has defied all the odds was spotted yet again last week on Delaware Bay. He's a small thing - no bigger than a robin, weighing only as much as a stick of butter. But he has one of the longest migrations on the planet. And a lot of renown. Scientists refer to him as B95, after the number on his leg band. But his fans, which apparently are legion, call him the Moonbird because in his lifetime, researchers figure, he has flown the equivalent of the distance to the moon and at least halfway back.
April 3, 2013 |
The sand trucks are running. The bulldozers are spreading. A nearly $1 million effort is under way to restore Delaware Bay beaches that are - or were, before Hurricane Sandy ravaged them - crucial turf for spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds that depend on crab eggs for refueling. On beaches where there was once ample sand for the crabs to dig into and deposit their eggs, biologists surveying the area after the storm found rugged tufts of sod, which had underlain the sand - part of $50 million in damage to bird habitats affected by Sandy.
February 20, 2013
NEW JERSEY state Sen. Jeff Van Drew wants a 5-year-old ban on harvesting horseshoe crabs lifted. Here are the main arguments over the ban: Pro-ban * The Atlantic red knot, a shorebird recently added to the endangered-species list, depends on horseshoe-crab eggs as a vital food source, a resource that activists say would be depleted should the ban be lifted. * Tens of thousands of bird-watchers routinely flock to the Jersey Shore in early May to watch red-knot migration.