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I Can Smell the Marsh, Blinding Me With Science

Written on: December 4th, 2018 in Outreach

by Brittany Haywood, Wetland Monitoring & Assessment Program

Sunrise over the marsh on the Leipsic River

Working in wetlands takes a certain breed of people, the kind that has to have a sense of humor.  You have to deal with interesting smells, sticky conditions, and bugs that manage to find their way into unwanted places (such as your eye or nose). But if you can handle the not so pleasant parts you will find some of the most amazing views, plants, animals, and people, and that is why we do what we do.

For example, did you know that frogs during the winter use high concentrations of glucose (simple sugar) as a sort of “antifreeze” in their organs to keep them alive while parts of their body become frozen? Or did you know that some species of sphagnum moss can hold 20 times their weight in water?  These are just some of the tidbits that we learned as we did our work in 2018.

Year in review

Kenny and Erin Tree Canopy Yoga

Yoga Instructor: Erin and Kenny in the Assessing Tree Canopy position. This particular position was used during the wetland mitigation/restoration assessment project.

As wetland scientists in our program (DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP)), we learn and work in multiple areas and across the entire State of Delaware.  Besides hosting this blog, we bring the science to K-12 students with hands-on classroom learning, to scientists, engineers, and other state workers in the form of professional development opportunities, and to the general public by posting all of what we do and learn to the great world wide web. We do all of these things through our research on wetland health and on innovative restoration techniques.

As we close out the year, we like to provide a general summary of some of the things we have accomplished throughout 2018.  We also have provided a few behind the scenes photos that might just experiment with possible alternate career paths for us wetland workers. So keep scrolling and enjoy the view.

Our 2018 wetland projects

Alison Fashion Forward

Fashion Designer: Alison’s shirt was apparently due for a design makeover. Sun’s out, guns out.

Projects spanning the entire state

Online outreach

New Castle County

Christina River Watershed

  • Erin Stuck in Mud

    Hollywood Actor: Erin tries her hand at acting out the escape from the sinkhole in the Fire Swamp. Or is she acting?

    Held the 2018 Delaware Wetlands Conference

  • Continued to monitor 3 long term Site Specific Intensive Monitoring stations with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary on the Christina River (view the 20016 report)
  • Organized a wetland planting event at the NVF Yorklyn Site

Kent County

Smyrna River Watershed

  • Held the Mid-Atlantic Tidal Wetlands Rapid Assessment Method Training
  • Released the Smyrna River watershed wetland health report and report card

Sussex County

Alex, Kenny and Erin Assessing Wetland

Meditation Guru: Kenny, Erin and Alex ponder the meaning of life and wetlands while trying to block out the mosquito distractions.

Broadkill River Watershed

Inland Bays Watershed

  • Held the Introduction to Living Shoreline Workshop
  • Held the Site Evaluation of Living Shoreline Workshop
  • Continued to monitor 3 long term Site Specific Intensive Monitoring stations with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary on the Broadkill River (view the 20016 report)
  • Monitored 3 living shoreline sites
  • Performed the Inland Bays long term monitoring project to assess marsh health

Nanticoke River Watershed

  • Held the second annual Wetlands Celebration at Trap Pond State Park

In Summary

Thanks for joining us for the 2018 calendar year as we trekked through wetlands across the state, and we hope to see you in 2019!  We would also like to thank all of the partners that have made our work possible. If you have any questions for us, you can get in touch with me at  Happy Holidays, and have a Happy New Year!

WMAP Staff 2018

Naw, we’ll keep our own jobs. 2018 staff listed left to right: Brittany, Kenny, Alex (Seasonal), Alison, and Erin


Seeing the Marsh through the Forest

Written on: December 3rd, 2018 in Wetland Assessments

Guest Writer:  LeeAnn Haaf, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Sea levels are rising in the Delaware Estuary– we’ve already observed its effects. Over the last couple decades, we have seen dramatic losses of tidal marsh acreage and documented the death of trees bordering those tidal marshes. We know that the last hope for a lot of […]

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Hunting Your Way Through Wetlands

Written on: December 1st, 2018 in Wetland Animals

by Kenny Smith, Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program Wetlands provide many services to us, like purifying our water, flood protection, and wildlife habitat. The animals that live in our wetlands can provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities like bird watching, fishing, and hunting. Delaware’s typical hunting and trapping seasons start in September and concludes at […]

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The Secrets of Wintering Wetland Wildlife

Written on: December 1st, 2018 in Wetland Animals

by Erin Dorset, Wetland Monitoring & Assessment Program In the spring and summertime, Delaware’s wetlands are teeming with wildlife. Frogs and toads are heard in chorus, calling for mates; turtles are observed slowly walking through the woods or basking on logs and rocks in the water; snakes are seen slithering across mosses or trees. But […]

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Delaware’s Most Famous Freshwater Bryozoan

Written on: December 1st, 2018 in Wetland Animals

Guest Writer: William Koth, Delaware State Parks Bryozoans may be one of our most overlooked and underappreciated animals. Known as “Moss Animals,”  bryozoans are small, simple animals rarely growing more than 1/25th of an inch in length.  However, most bryozoans form colonies that can vary greatly in number, form, and size. Bryozoan biology Each individual […]

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SAV, What Is It And Why Should I Care?

Written on: November 27th, 2018 in Wetland Restorations

By Michael Bott, DNREC Watershed Assessment and Management Section Have you ever wondered why there is so much submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), also called seagrass, in the tidal waters of Virginia and Maryland but not in Delaware?  This is a question many researchers and regulators in the state have been trying to solve and this year […]

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Confessions of a Seasonal: the things we do for the love of wetlands

Written on: September 12th, 2018 in Wetland Assessments

by Alex Thomas, Wetland Monitoring & Assessment Program When I got the call telling me that I had been offered the position of Wetland Field Technician for DNREC I was ecstatic. I would be working outside all summer, assisting on legitimate research projects and working with something I absolutely love. What I didn’t know at […]

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Clean Water Act changes and what it means for Delaware

Written on: September 12th, 2018 in Outreach

by Mark Biddle, DNREC Watershed Assessment and Management Section States and tribes across the nation are scrambling to assess how waters are protected within their jurisdiction under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Specifically, a recent U.S. District Court ruling to CWA Section 404, which is the federal program that regulates dredge and fill activities […]

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Wetland Plant Adaptations

Written on: September 12th, 2018 in Outreach

by Erin Dorset, Wetland Monitoring & Assessment Program Wetland plants live a tough life. They are often under water for significant periods of time, meaning that they are frequently deprived of oxygen. Wetland plants also need to remain stable in the soil if they deal with fast moving water that ebbs and flows. Those that […]

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Microplastics: Where will they end up next?

Written on: September 12th, 2018 in Wetland Assessments

Guest Writer: Nicole Rodi, Delaware Coastal Programs Ahh the average morning routine- drinking some coffee, making lunch, brushing your teeth, and washing your face- unknowingly rubbing tiny pieces of plastic on your face, and teeth! Fortunately, due to the Microbead Free Waters Act there is a ban on microbeads in tooth paste and facewash, but […]

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Delaware Wetland Management & Assessment Program