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Fri March 18, 2011
Prof. Joseph Reynolds, Monmouth University - Oceanic Spring
Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Professor Joseph Reynolds of Monmouth University explains the increase in coastal wildlife activity that accompanies the onset of spring.
Joe Reynolds is an an adjunct professor in the History/Anthropology department at Monmouth University where he teaches a course entitled, Global Environmental Problems. He is also a professional environmental educator and senior park naturalist for the Monmouth County Park System, vice-chair of the Monmouth County Environmental Council, and Co-Chair of the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council.
His current research projects include monitoring winter seal haul-out sites in Sandy Hook Bay for the State of New Jersey, Fish and Wildlife Division, managing a Horseshoe Crab monitoring project during the spring in Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay, and conducting seining surveys of juvenile fish and crab populations in local estuarine waters each summer, the last two projects for the American Littoral Society and the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council.
Professor Joseph Reynolds - Oceanic Spring
For over twenty years, I've witnessed some breathtaking spring events in an unlikely place - Lower New York Bay. Between March and June, this urban waterway becomes a small spot on the earth where the natural and non-natural worlds meet from Jamaica Bay to Sandy Hook Bay.
It all start soon after St. Patrick's Day, like clockwork Ospreys arrive from far-away tropical sites to appear every spring at the same nest site on or around the same day every year to raise a family.
In April Northern Gannets arrive by the hundreds, perhaps even by the thousands to feed on herring. From a height of more than 100 feet and at speeds up to 90 miles per hour the birds will plunge head first into the water to catch fish before heading to Canada to breed.
Atlantic Striped Bass migrating northward from North Carolina will spawn in the tidal freshwaters of the Hudson River. Bigger females will release more eggs. A 14-pound female will produce thousands of eggs, whereas a 60-pound female will release millions of eggs.
With many herons and egrets feeding in tidal waters, spring concludes with the arrival of Horseshoe crabs and long distance shorebirds. On full and new moon evenings in May and early June, A pair of Horseshoe Crabs will deposit between 80,000 and 100,000 eggs in the sand.
In need of those crab eggs are Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlins, and Sanderlings. They have been on a long winged flights to nesting sites in the Arctic. The shorebirds make an important stop around New York Bay to refuel on Horseshoe Crab eggs, which will provide protein to keep this amazing natural connection going on.
Not just for the birds, but for many people who still want to connect with nature and feel the excitement of the spring season in one of the most hectic shorelines in the world.