Construction crews at Wreck Pond have begun installing the steel sheeting of the coffer dam. That dam will allow work to resume on the fish passage.
Construction of the 600-foot culvert was halted on April 8 due to seasonal restrictions that protect beach-nesting birds. Monitors found a colony of least terns and a pair of American oystercatchers. Least terns are a state-listed endangered species and American oystercatchers are a species of concern.
The appearance of nesting shorebirds marked a return to normalcy in that area.
“This is the first time least tern have nested on site since Hurricane Sandy in 2012,” said Katie Conrad, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to Conrad, the least tern colony had a peak size of 26 adults and successfully fledged 11 young. The American oystercatchers attempted two nests, but both nests were most likely killed by foxes before hatching.
While the nesting birds are great news, the true beneficiaries of the new culvert will be fish and people. The project will open up two miles of passageways and nursery habitat for migratory fish while helping protect the surrounding boroughs of Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Sea Girt against future storm surges.
Surveying of existing fish habitat and populations continue as the restoration project moves toward completion. Last week the survey looked at plant life and wetlands surrounding the Wreck Pond between the Inlet and First Ave Bridge. Another juvenile fish survey was also done.
This week, on a beautiful fall-like day, we collected several needlefish, mummichog, striped killifish, sheepshead minnows, Atlantic silversides, northern kingfish, and one winter flounder.
There will be more opportunities for local people to get involved when our Citizen Science Monitoring Program launches in the next few weeks. For more information or to sign up for our first training (date TBD), email Zack Royle at Zack@littoralsociety.org.