Another sampling event is in the books. Last week, the Society completed its third fish sampling event at Wreck Pond. We caught an additional 17 alewife bringing our total to over 30 caught for the season. We also snagged a couple of our “regulars” including white perch, white sucker, and gizzard shad (see the previous blog post). In addition, we caught one brown bullhead and one black crappie, our first captures of the year for each species. We were also able to host three budding marine biologists (or maybe ninjas) for bring your child to work day.
Fish sampling continues at Wreck Pond. Last Week, the Society completed its second sampling event. We caught an additional 11 alewife, bringing our total to 14 for the season. In addition, we caught several other fishes including white perch, common carp, mummichog, Atlantic silverside, and gizzard shad; as well as multiple blue crabs and one painted turtle.
Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) were the most abundant species caught this past sampling event, and thus, I want to take a moment to highlight this lesser known fish:
Gizzard shad are members of the herring family. They live in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, but can also be found in slow moving rivers and streams and brackish estuaries. In general, they prefer shallow waterbodies with muddy bottoms. Gizzard shad are planktivores, feeding on phytoplankton when young and zooplankton when older. They will also feed on detritus when the zooplankton abundance is low. They are deep bodied fish with distinct rounded snouts and small toothless mouths. Gizzard shad are thus named because they possess a gizzard, an internal organ that is part of their digestive system. The gizzard is essentially a small sack filled with stones or sand (consumed by the gizzard shad) that helps break down the gizzard shad’s food. Gizzard shad typically spawn between May and June during the evening. They have high fecundity i.e. they can produce a lot of offspring. This, coupled with their fast growth rate, means that Gizzard shad can often become a large part of the ecosystem in which they live.
The Society recently completed its first fish sampling event of the year at Wreck Pond. Our spring sampling targets river herring that migrate into the watershed to spawn. We use a fyke net to catch fish. The net is set up underneath the railroad bridge for several days, and is checked in the mornings and evenings. All fishes caught are identified, measured, and weighed. River herring caught are additionally tagged with PIT tags to better track their spawning movement and behavior. During this past event we caught several white perch, a couple white suckers, one large carp, and three alewife.
At Wreck Pond, the Society has recorded its first recapture of an alewife tagged last year. Fish 576 “Samantha” was first caught in our fyke net on April 23rd of last year. She was subsequently measured, weighed, and tagged. Until recently, she was last recorded on May 24, 2016, passing by our antenna at the outfall pipe as she left the watershed for the Atlantic.
On March 25, 2017 at around 2:00am, Samantha swam through our antenna located near the Rt. 71 Bridge. We are heartened to see that Samantha survived the past year in the ocean and has once again returned to Wreck Pond to spawn. If you are interested in volunteering to assist with fish sampling contact Zack Royle at Zack@littoralsociety.org.
Early last week, Winter Storm Stella barreled through the Northeast US. While much of NJ was spared from substantial snowfall, many parts of the state experienced heavy rain and strong winds, with coastal areas also experiencing large waves and high storm surge.
In anticipation of the storm, Spring Lake officials closed the culvert and outfall gates around 10:30 Monday morning following low tide. Closing the gates largely prevented the high storm surge from flowing into the pond. Instead of snow, throughout Monday night and Tuesday, over three inches of rain fell in the area. This rain slowly collected in Wreck Pond until Wednesday morning when the gates were opened allowing water to flow out of Wreck Pond and into the ocean. Despite the heavy rainfall in a relatively short period of time, the communities around Wreck Pond faced minimal flooding. Water barely overtopped the bulkhead along 2nd Avenue. No houses were impacted by surface flooding, and we only have one report of flooding in a residents backyard along Black Creek.
Photos by Jay Amberg of Sea Girt.
The past two weeks, the Society reinstalled PIT tagging antennas at several locations within the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. These antennas will allow us to track the movement of tagged river herring as they migrate into Wreck Pond to spawn, and will help us answer a number of questions about river herring spawning behavior.
This week, the Society will also begin fish sampling. To catch fish, we will set up a fyke net underneath the railroad bridge in Wreck Pond. All fish caught will be measured and weighed, and river herring will be tagged. If you are interested in volunteering to help with fish sampling contact Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This sand will act as a buffer against storm event wave energy, and by doing so, help to improve the resiliency and protect the integrity of the pond and the welfare of both Spring Lake and Sea Girt. As we move forward, you will see more of us on site as we prepare for our Spring fish sampling in March.
Midway through February, the Society's restoration team is preparing for a new season of Spring fyke net sampling. For the remainder of this month, equipment including: the fyke net, buckets, gloves, waders, and PIT tags will be prepped and checked for their use in March.
The PIT tags (pictured below) fundamental purpose is to monitor the migratory habits of river herring species in and throughout the Wreck Pond watershed. Also pictured is the PIT tag reader; when river herring are caught in the fyke net, we will use this reader to scan each specimen for the presence of a PIT tag.
Once March hits, PIT tag equipment will be tested and deployed so stay tuned for the beginning of a new monitoring season soon. This will be the first year of monitoring with a secondary passage for fish to enter the pond so fingers crossed for a successful and record breaking season !
Work at Wreck Pond continues. Last week, Jim Nickels of Monmouth University installed several water meters in Wreck Pond. These meters will be used to record water depth, temperature, and salinity. The data collected from these meters will be compared to data collected by the Society’s own water meter as well as data collected in the citizen science program to better assess some of the impacts of the new fish passage culvert on the pond.
One of the things these data will tell us is how water levels fluctuate in the pond during different tidal and weather conditions. This could not be timelier, given the recent nor’easter that struck our area only yesterday. This is the first storm to have hit Wreck Pond since the installation of the new culvert, and while the data are not yet analyzed, we do know that Wreck Pond did not flood, with residents saying the water level did not rise much above the normal high tide mark.
Happy belated New Year! If early indications are to be trusted, it looks like 2017 is going to be an exciting year for the Society and our work at Wreck Pond. With the completion of the fish passage culvert, we now turn our attention towards monitoring Wreck Pond and the larger Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. On top of our migratory fish monitoring that we have conducted for the past three years, we once again will be PIT tagging adult river herring captured during our spring surveys. Further, in the upcoming months, we will be performing stream habitat assessments, benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, and facilitating data collection on water level, salinity, and flow in the pond and new culvert.
Our citizen science program is also rapidly expanding. We have almost 50 volunteers interested in the program. In light of this, we are revamping the program to accomodate the increase in people partcipating. Trainings on the program are being held this month in Spring Lake. If you are interested in the program and would like more information, contact Julie Schumacher at Julie@littoralsociety.org.