March 16, 2006 |
The air is thick with the smell of linseed oil and Atlantic white cedar, and Dick Jessen is sitting in the middle of it all like a king upon a throne of wood shavings. It's not clear whether he is contemplating his next remark, or the delicate curve of the neck of the great kiskadee he is carving, as his sharp eyes narrow and he pauses, a carving knife in one hand, a small piece of wood in the other. But when he finally speaks, it's clear that Jessen, who has been carving for 50 years, recognizes the irony that this deep-rooted regional practice of turning castaway pieces of wood into replicas of birds has evolved from a crude, backwoods form into high folk art and back again.
February 26, 2006 |
The horseshoe crab - helmet-like and ungainly, a relic from the age of dinosaurs - was once harvested by the truckload. Nobody counted, and nobody really cared. Today, it is at the center of one of the most contentious fisheries debates in recent history on the Delaware Bay, with experts by the dozen arguing about how to manage the species. At stake is the survival of the red knot - an imperiled shorebird that depends on horseshoe crab eggs. But also at stake is the livelihood of watermen who use the crabs as conch bait and a conch processing industry which caters to Asian demand.
February 8, 2006 |
To help save the red knot, a small shorebird whose survival depends on horseshoe crab eggs, New Jersey has officially proposed halting all harvesting of horseshoe crabs for two years. If adopted, the moratorium would take effect in May, when the crabs come ashore on Delaware Bay beaches to lay their eggs. That's also when the tiny red knot is alighting, emaciated after a nonstop flight from Brazil and in need of the lipid-rich eggs. Biologists have blamed the bird's precipitous decline in the last decade on a reduction of crab eggs, caused by the crab harvest.
January 16, 2006 |
Even as a diminished population of red knots winters in southern Chile, fattening up for the long migration north through the Delaware Bay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied an emergency request by conservation activists to list the bird as endangered. The agency contended no emergency existed but is considering proposals to list the red knot on a nonemergency basis. Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups that sought the emergency listing, criticized the denial as a political decision, "pure and simple.
November 3, 2005 |
An interstate fisheries commission has proposed a two-year moratorium on horseshoe crabbing in Delaware and New Jersey - not to save the crab, but to save a shorebird that some say is headed for extinction by 2010. Crab eggs are a vital food source for the red knot during its spring stop on Delaware Bay, while flying from the tip of South America to the Arctic. Scientists blame the bird's decline on a reduction in crab eggs, caused by overharvesting. Wildlife officials, who figure they have a four-year window to save the bird, lauded the proposal by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, made at a meeting Tuesday.
September 8, 2005 |
Area bird lovers recently placed their hopes of saving a local shorebird from extinction on a landmark environmental law that is already protecting more than 1,250 other threatened and endangered species. It seemed a commonsense move. Unfortunately for the red knot and people trying to defend it, the fate of that law is itself in serious jeopardy. Since the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973, only nine species under its care have gone extinct, and it is credited with the impressive recoveries of the bald eagle, the American alligator, the Florida manatee, the whooping crane, and the green sea turtle.
June 30, 2005 |
In the early 1960s, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, one of the most important books that helped launch broad public concern for the environment. The work was most directly about the dangers and impacts of irresponsible, uninformed pesticide use. Carson's broader message - the one that resonated around the world - was about a failure to take care of the environment with which humanity has been entrusted. She portrayed the prospect of a silent spring - devoid of the beauty of birdsong because of society's widespread use of deadly pesticides.
June 23, 2005 |
New Jersey's horseshoe crab harvest, halted two weeks ago on an emergency basis to give officials time to review crab census data, will reopen today. The moratorium was imposed June 10 out of concern for a small shorebird, the red knot, that depends on horseshoe crab eggs for its survival. At this time, "there are no planned actions to close the harvest" again, Karen Hershey, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said yesterday. She said officials were still reviewing data and would not be available to discuss them.
June 10, 2005 |
Concerned about the survival of the fragile red knot population, New Jersey officials yesterday issued an emergency order postponing the horseshoe crab harvest season for two weeks. The order gives the shorebirds more time to feed on crab eggs - a critical fuel for the birds, which stop each spring at Delaware Bay during a grueling flight from South America to the Arctic. Their arrival coincides with horseshoe crab spawning, but this spring the density of eggs reached an all-time low, according to researchers.
June 8, 2005 |
Based on a sharp decline in a once-plentiful bird called the red knot - and a drop in the supply of their main food, horseshoe crab eggs - New Jersey and Delaware are poised to set new limits on the crab harvest in the Delaware Bay. Bradley M. Campbell, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said yesterday that current restrictions on the harvest were apparently not enough to reverse the "alarming" downward trend...