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Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Horseshoe crab survey

Shark River Cleanup Coalition

Host Agency : Shark River Cleanup Coalition
Address: PO Box 2241 Neptune City NJ 07753
Phone: 732-272-4442
Supervisor Name: Ed Lippincott
E-mail of supervisor: chefed@mac.com

Nature of Host Agency:   Non-profit

Project Description: The Shark River Cleanup Coalition is a local not for profit 501 (c ) 3 corporation.  Incorporated in 2001 our mission is to significantly enhance the water quality of the Shark River Estuary and its fresh water tributaries, to improve and protect habitats important to the conservation and abundance of the wildlife, to protect the recreational and commercial uses from degradation and pollution, thereby ensuring the ecology and economic stability of this important watershed.

Since 2004 the SRCC has hosted a horseshoe crab survey as a volunteer data collection activity.  During May and June, during high tides, thousands of horseshoe crabs (limulus polyphemus) spawn on beaches in the Shark River Estuary.   Each year our volunteer program collects valuable data, using NJDEP protocols to track horseshoe crab numbers and identify important breeding areas.  In 2008 we added a tagging program with support and in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Since horseshoe crabs have been so much in the news lately, 2008 was our most successful year yet and we were overwhelmed with the volunteer interest in the project.   Not only is this a fun project it is also well established and would benefit greatly from a volunteer intern who could add some knowledge and insight to managing such an undertaking.

The project is overseen by Ed Lippincott, Executive Director of SRCC and Capt. Al Modjeski, Senior Environmental Scientist for AENSR Environmental.  The project is in two parts:  the Crab Count and the Tagging.  The Tagging can be done at any time and we have four trained volunteers who are certified by USFWS to handle and tag crabs.  Volunteers help us to record the data.  This work can be done any time  during the survey period.  SRCC provides all materials for the data collection including clipboards, pens, pencils, data sheets and other material for assembling data.  Volunteers need their own flashlights, boots, appropriate clothing and insect repellent.

The Crab Count is conducted during high tide in the evenings on the following dates:

Sampling Event #1     May 7 - May 11, 2009

  • Date
  • Day
  • High Tide (24hr)
  • Tide Level (ft)
  • Meeting Time (24hr)
  • May 7, 2009
  • Thursday
  • 1922
  • 5.4
  • 1850
  • May 9, 2009
  • Saturday
  • 2042
  • 5.3
  • 2015
  • May 11, 2009
  • Monday
  • 2201
  • 4.9
  • 2130
 

Sampling Event #2      May 22 -26, 2009

  • Date
  • Day
  • High Tide (24hr)
  • Tide Level (ft)
  • Meeting Time (24hr)
  • May 22, 2009
  • Friday
  • 1840
  • 5.4
  • 1800
  • May 24, 2009
  • Sunday
  • 2015
  • 5.8
  • 1945
  • May 26, 2009
  • Tuesday
  • 2200
  • 5.7
  • 2130

 

Sampling Event #3      June 5 – June 9, 2009

  • Date
  • Day
  • High Tide (24hr)
  • Tide Level (ft)
  • Meeting Time (24hr)
  • June 5, 2009
  • Friday
  • 1856
  • 5.2
  • 1830
  • June 7, 2009
  • Sunday
  • 2018
  • 5.1
  • 1945
  • June 9, 2009
  • Tuesday
  • 2137
  • 4.9
  • 2130

 

Sampling Event #4      June 20 – June 24, 2009

  • Date
  • Day
  • High Tide (24hr)
  • Tide Level (ft)
  • Meeting Time (24hr)
  • June 20, 2009
  • Saturday
  • 1813
  • 5.5
  • 1745
  • June 22, 2009
  • Monday
  • 2001
  • 5.9
  • 1930
  • June 24, 2009
  • Wednesday
  • 2148
  • 5.8
  • 2115

 

Nature of anticipated impact :        Environmental

Evaluation Plan: 

The planned hours would be as follows:

Each individual tagging event would last approximately 4 hours x 12 events = 48 hours which includes assembling, distributing, collecting data sheets and data entry.  The remaining hours are taken up with the additional data sheet collection and data entry with the tagging program.   If the intern wanted to tag crabs they would have to be trained and that would involve some additional work hours.   Capt Al Modjeski is the final end user of the data for now.   I keep all originals and Capt Al digitizes all forms. 

Evaluation would be a matter of assuring that all data is organized, legible and follows our protocols for chain of custody.   A perfectly executed series of events would have complete data sheets for all beaches (7) for all events (12) and clear and concise data on tagging information.  This takes into consideration unforeseen circumstances like the weather.

The purpose of the data collection is to track horseshoe crab population in the Shark River estuary and to identify and protect spawning habitat along the shores.  Tagging data will be used to determine if the Shark River is a distinct population of if populations from other estuaries intermingle. 

 Learning Objectives in plan : This project would teach the participant the following things:

  1. Organizational skills
  1. Managing a volunteer database
  1. Basic principles of scientific inquiry and data collection
  1. Assembling. distributing and collecting data sheets
  1. Data entry in basic spreadsheets and delivering data to appropriate stakeholders
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