Hi All! My name is Sydney Sheridan and I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. Through my conservation ecology course capstone project for the semester, I am getting involved with local citizen science. I was lucky to discover the Wreck Pond project and am excited they have welcomed me aboard! As a Belmar resident and lifelong resident of the Jersey Shore, I am eager to help out our local wildlife and contribute to restoring this important ecosystem. Over the next couple months, I plan to participate weekly in the sampling sites at Wreck Pond by collecting citizen scientist data on water temperature, water level, salinity, and site observations. I also intend to help the Wreck Pond team potentially expand upon these parameters, log and assess the data collected, participate in upcoming training sessions, and guest blog here from time to time! If you see me down by the pond, please come by and say hello!
Next week marks the start of our 2019 fish sampling season. Throughout the spring we will be setting up our fyke net underneath the railroad bridge in hopes of catching migrating river herring moving upstream to spawn. Last year was our most successful year to date as we caught 149 adult alewife in our fyke sampling and 146 juveniles in our seine surveys.
This year we have revamped our PIT tagging program. We’ve added an antenna to the inside of the culvert. This antenna will help us answer questions such as: what time of day are river herring traveling in the antenna? Are they swimming with or against the tide? And how fast are they swimming? See several pictures of the antenna below.
We have also changed the design of our antenna that we place at the opening of the culvert. This antenna is designed to float on the surface of the pond. It is our hope this antenna will be more resilient to the high flows experienced there.
Stay tuned for more updates on our PIT tagging and sampling results!
Happy New Year from the American Littoral Society and the Wreck Pond Restoration Team!
The American Littoral Society wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. Spring sampling is just around the corner! For more information on the the Wreck Pond Restoration Project, please contact Zack Royle, zack@littoralsociety,org. For more information on the Citizen Science Monitoring program, please contact Julie Schumacher, email@example.com
The most unique find to date was captured and released on Thursday 9/20/18. Identifying the mysterious specimen stumped the team, so images were sent to Sandy Hook NOAA fish lab staff for help. They replied confirming the identity of the creature, a Wreck Pond first (large image below), a juvenile mahi mahi! Mahi can be caught off the coast of New Jersey, however, finding such a small juvenile in Wreck Pond was certainly an exciting and special find for the team.
If you are interested in participating in any of the remaining sampling events, please contact Julie Schumacher, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
While we may have lagged recently on our blog posts (our apologies) the Society has nevertheless been very busy at Wreck Pond. In mid-June, we started our river herring young-of-year (YOY) monitoring. As its name implies, this monitoring targets river herring born earlier in the year, and is complementary to our spring fyke net sampling: whereas the spring fyke sampling lets us know when and how many adult river herring are coming into Wreck Pond to spawn, the YOY monitoring lets us know if the spawning has been successful. The results of previous years’ work indicate that at least some YOY river herring migrate downstream in Wreck Pond in early summer. Because of this, the Society has expanded the timeframe of YOY monitoring to start in early June instead of September as was done the first two years of the survey.
On July 12, 2018, the Society caught 142 YOY alewife. This is a fantastic catch considering the most we have ever caught for an entire season was five. Further, the following week we caught nine more. In addition to alewife, we have caught a number of other species including Atlantic silverside, stripped killifish, mummichog, northern puffer, and one short bigeye.
Short Bigeye, Pristigenys alta
Juvenile alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus
That’s a wrap folks! This morning we completed our last fyke net sampling event for the season. We would like to thank all of the volunteers who came out to assist us this spring. Your time and help is truly appreciated, as we could not do the job without you. While we are still analyzing all the data collected, we do know that we caught over 150 adult alewife this year, more so than in any previous year except for 2006. We also caught a large number of other species including gizzard shad, white perch, bluegill sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, brown bullhead, white suckers, golden shiners, striped killifish, yellow perch, a largemouth bass, black crappie, painted turtles, and one large ornery common snapping turtle, who - judging by his picture - will be happy to see us gone.
But while the spring fyke net sampling is completed, our other work is just beginning. This summer and fall we will continue to seine for juvenile alewife. We also will be taking macroinvertebrate samples in the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed, and working on the construction of a fish ladder over Old Mill Dam.
Over the past month, the Society completed two more monitoring events at Wreck Pond. Over the course of these events, we caught approximately 70 alewife. A great catch. Mixed in with the alewife were some of our regulars (white perch, gizzard shad, pumpkinseeds, and bluegills), as well as a couple of lesser seen species (brown bullhead, American eel, black crappie, largemouth bass), and a few new catches for the year including a painted turtle and a common snapping turtle. Interestingly, the number of gizzard shad caught greatly increased in the 7th monitoring event. This increase in catch coincided with gizzard shad spawning period (late May through early June).
Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
White perch (Morone americana)
Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
The fifth sampling event is complete, and we can now add a further 29 alewife to our total catch for the year so far. In addition to the alewife, we also caught multiple white perch and gizzard shad (both common species seen in our net), as well as a pumpkinseed sunfish and several very large carp (see photo below).
Well known to most freshwater anglers (often as a nuisance), pumpkinseeds (Lepomis gibbosus) are a freshwater species of fish in the sunfish family. They typically live in warm, calm lakes and ponds or in small rivers. They eat a wide varies of insects, as well as small mollusks and crustaceans, worms, and smaller fish. They are active throughout the day, often schooling with more pumpkinseeds and other sunfish such as bluegills.
As an interesting defensive adaptation, pumpkinseeds have evolved a dark spot (eye spot) at the posterior end of their operculum (gill plate). This spot mimics the look of an eye of a larger fish as it is positioned further back on the body. When threatened by a predator, pumpkinseeds will often flare their gills to appear larger.
In yesterday’s post we highlighted some of the results from our fourth, and most recent, sampling event. In today’s post, we will be talking about what we caught in the event prior.
The third sampling event took place from March 29th to April 2nd. No river herring were caught; however, we did catch a number of large common carp (Cyprinus carpio), each weighing around 10 to 11 lbs. Common carp are not native to NJ, or to the United States for that matter. They were first introduced to North American in 1831 by Captain Henry Robinson of New York who brought them over from France. In a little over 50 years, common carp had become established in waterbodies throughout the nation. In New Jersey, common carp are present in almost every lake, pond, river, or stream. They have a long lifespan, living anywhere from 12 to 20 years. They forage on the bottom sediments of waterbodies, using their fleshy barbels to taste for insects and other invertebrates. Yet they are largely non-discriminant eaters, often consuming vegetable matter in addition to insects (NJDEP).
In addition to the common carp, we also caught one mirror carp (Cyprinus carpio carpio). The mirror carp is a variant of the common carp that is differentiated by its irregular, patchy scaling pattern. The difference in scales is the result of variants in two genes.
Another notable catch during the third sampling event was of a chain pickerel (Esox niger). This was our first catch of this species in Wreck Pond.