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  Archived Posts From: 2016

Oyster Recycling is Here to Stay

Written on: May 30th, 2016 in Living Shorelines

Credit: Delaware Center for Inland Bays

Credit: Delaware Center for Inland Bays

Did you know that empty oyster shells can be reused for wetland restoration projects and that there are two oyster shell recycling programs in Delaware? One is run by the Center for the Inland Bays in Rehoboth Beach and the other is by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in Wilmington.

Oysters have hard shells mostly made up of calcium carbonate (the same stuff chalk is made up of), and are perfect for creating natural shoreline stabilization structures that break up wave energy, prevent erosion, and serve as homes for baby oysters, also called spat. In addition to controlling erosion, oysters filter water. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.

Indian River living shoreline installation with oyster bags.

Indian River living shoreline installation with oyster bags.

One way we’ve utilized this natural resource is in our living shorelines projects. Once the oyster shells have been cured, they are stuffed into mesh bags to keep them from being knocked around and put along the edge of the living shorelines projects (see picture). They serve as a first line of defense for the marsh edge protecting it against strong waves, and also as a blank canvas to attract new oyster colonies.

Remember, as the Center for the Inland Bays says, “Don’t Chuck Your Shucks!”, recycle them to keep them out of landfills and get them back into nature. Currently, Center for Inland Bays and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary collect oyster shells from local restaurants, please contact each program directly for more information about their oyster shell recycling programs.


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May is American Wetlands Month

Written on: May 30th, 2016 in Outreach

lewes-install-complete2015American Wetlands Month was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1991 as a way to bring federal, state, and local organizations together to highlight the importance of wetlands to the environment, the economy, and the nation’s citizens.

“American Wetlands Month is a great time to discover the importance of wetlands and the significant benefits they provide,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Wetlands contribute to the quality of life in Delaware by protecting people and property from flooding and coastal storms, filtering pollutants from water, increasing fish and wildlife habitat and helping reduce the impacts of sea level rise. Efforts to protect and restore wetlands are critical to ensuring their economically valuable services.”

In support of American Wetlands Month, we have organized programs that raise awareness about wetland health and benefits, and encourage actions to protect them.Wetland Apprentice Banner


It’s Horseshoe Crab Counting Season

Written on: May 30th, 2016 in Wetland Animals

Horseshoe Crabs. Credit: DNERR

Horseshoe Crabs. Credit: DNERR

Guest writer: Maggie Pletta, DNERR

The Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world, which is just one of the many reasons the Delaware Bay is so special. The horseshoe crab has been around since before the dinosaurs and is an important animal to the ecosystem and to humans. Their blood is used in the production of LAL (Limulus Amebocyte Lysate) for testing the sterility of medical equipment; their eggs are the food that ensures migratory shorebirds can reach their destinations; and the crabs themselves are part of a thriving commercial fishery. However, since there are so many uses and needs of this extraordinary animal it is important that their numbers are tracked and managed.

Counting horseshoe crabs with a quadrat. Credit: DNERR

Counting horseshoe crabs with a quadrat. Credit: DNERR

To do this every year hundreds of volunteers assist organizations like the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) to complete surveys of spawning crabs on Delaware Bay beaches every May and June during the full and new moons. During those moon phases the bay experiences the highest high tides, which is when the horseshoe crab comes up from its watery habitat to leave small green eggs in the wet sand. The volunteers head out on these nights, no matter how late, and walk a one kilometer distance on the beach stopping every 20 meters to count crabs. To ensure the volunteers are counting crabs in a standard size area, one meter by one meter square, they use a quadrat that they lay down on top of the crab line. Once the quadrat is down the volunteers count the number of male and female crabs, and then they pick up the quadrat and head down the beach to their next site. In all, one hundred samples are taken every night on every beach surveyed.

Once the data is collected for the season it is sent to Limulus Laboratories in New Jersey where the data is analyzed and compiled into an annual population report. This report is important because it is what resource managers use to set the harvesting regulations on the horseshoe crab in the Delaware Bay. And the volunteers are the key to a successful survey because without them we would never have enough people to complete the survey and collect this valuable data.

If you are interested in assisting with the survey next year you can contact Drexel Siok and Maggie Pletta, the spawning survey coordinators for the DNERR, or visit their survey website.


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Delaware Wetland Management & Assessment Program

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