Sunday, October 19, 2008

Appalachian Mountain Club

Our final group for the 2008 season was the Appalachian Mountain Club. In what has become a tradition, a group of people new to Sedge joined several veterans for the four day Columbus weekend. On our first day’s paddle we decided to head into the wind by paddling north along the shore of Island Beach State Park. Progress was slow, but by noon we had made it to Tices Shoals where we pulled out and walked across the boardwalk to the beach. On the way home we stopped to clam in Johnny Allen’s cove. Here we were pleased to discover that some of the clams stocked by the Division of Fish and Wildlife were just large enough to keep for dinner.

Our Sunday paddle was more ambitious. First we headed south four miles to Viking Village. This part of the trip was made easier by the wind and the current- both of which were behind us. We walked the docks to check out the Barnegat Light fishing fleet. We then we headed north to the public launch ramp where we landed and walked to the lighthouse. We had lunch and then while waiting for the tide to change, many of us climbed to the top of the lighthouse for a beautiful view of the surrounding area- especially the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone. In the late afternoon we paddled back along High Bar Harbor with a stop at Gull Island to check out any remaining birds. We found that most have migrated by this time. After a delicious dinner, seven of the more ambitious members of the group launched “Baby Beluga”, our 22” white canoe, for a night paddle around the island. We were rewarded by a fantastic display of bioluminescence that was so bright that we could see the wakes of fish shooting out ahead of the boat.

After a huge breakfast on the last morning, many of the group paddled toward the western side of the bay and then circled back through the southern end of the Marine Conservation Zone. During this time, I stayed behind to get some work done. I would like to give a special thanks to AMC member Paul Dice who stayed behind to help pull up the buoys marking the northern end of the Marine Conservation Zone. This is hard, dirty work and Paul did it willingly and cheerfully.

Southern Regional High School

Catching, collecting, and then feasting on wild edibles, can best characterize the Sedge experience for the students and faculty from SRHS. Our Thursday night banquet best sums it up. We had grilled Tautog that Mr. Dorris and a student caught earlier that day off the Barnegat Inlet Jetty. We ate raw and steamed hard clams that we dug on our way home from the long kayak trip. We had steamed soft clams drenched in butter. We had both ribbed and blue mussels in marinara sauce over spaghetti. Our vegetables consisted of Salicornia and Ulva salad. Several of us even tried eating raw spider crab. I found this to be mildly flavorful and somewhat watery.

Another high point of the trip was the bioluminescence. The water lit up when the dinoflagilates were disturbed with a hand or net swished through the water. A real surprise came when Mr. Dorris dove off the dock sending an explosion of glowing water into the air.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nutley High School

The AP Biology class was fortunate to be able to get involved in a Watershed Education Program provided by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Sunday evening Howie Nebling and Lynette Lurig introduced this program to the students with a talk about fishing equipment and techniques. The following morning many students got up at sunrise to fish. Some used bait including clams, mullet and squid. Some used lures. They fished deep and near the surface. They retrieved slowly or cranked as fast as they could. In the end, one student caught and released a 16 inch striped bass. He was using a Fin-s, the same kind of lure we almost always use. The following morning many students again got up to fish at sunrise. Again one student caught one small striped bass on a Fin-s. Perhaps we have trained the fish in the vicinity of Sedge fish to hit they lures we most frequently use??

On Sunday a film crew from Ocean County College came to Sedge to video of the Nutley High School water quality monitoring session at Sedge. Students used chemical and mechanical means to measure temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and turbidity. They then did a biological inventory of the flora and fauna by examining the contents of a seine net that two of the students dragged through the shallows near the dock. Who knows- in the future we may see some of these students on TV again when they are famous marine biologists.

Monday, September 22, 2008

NJ Kayak

Bill and Carmen Stage, owners of NJ Kayak, organized a group of eight experienced kayakers for a weekend trip to the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center. They paddled out to Sedge late Friday morning and had lunch. They then paddled another six miles with the return trip being a strenuous journey paddling on the eastern edge of the Oyster creek Channel against a strong wind and tide. The following day they paddled past the lighthouse, along High Bar Harbor, and then landed at a beach in Barnegat Light. From here we walked to Viking Village where we had lunch and toured the fishing village and craft shops. The return trip included a stop at Gull Island where we checked out the new sand deposit created by the dredging of the Oyster Creek Channel.

On Sunday the group continued their paddling expeditions. Six people got up before sunrise to paddle together in our twenty two-foot peace canoe. After a circumnavigation of Sedge Island we returned briefly for breakfast and then set out for another paddle to the inlet via the Sea Dog Trail. We discovered that there were some gentle waves breaking in the inlet, so we carried our boats over the dike and spent the next hour kayak surfing. This was an amazing experience for two of the group since they had never paddled in salt-water before- let alone done any surfing. They handled the small waves beautifully!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rutgers Outing Club

Diversity is the watchword of the dozen Rutgers Students who are from a variety of classes, ages, and majors. Included in the group was Shang Jen, a Rutgers Pharmacy major who had volunteered all summer as Sedge intern. The group arrived in the rain on Friday night, loaded their gear onto the pontoon boat and made their way to the island. Club advisor Rick Lathrop, who paddled his kayak to Sedge into the strong west wind, soon joined them. We were able to watch Rick’s progress through the spotting scope by following a flashing red light he had attached to his hat.

Saturday turned out to be a warmer than usual late summer day. As a result the group was able to participate in a wide variety of activities. Catching fish rewarded several of those who got up before sunrise. Unfortunately we could not keep the summer flounder because it was one inch short and also just after the season closed. The kayak trip to the inlet was easy for these strong paddlers. Many students took advantage of the warm air and water to try some body surfing in the great surf. After returning to Sedge everyone went clamming. Digging over 130 clams rewarded those who stuck with it. It should be noted that they returned many of these for the next group of Sedge Island clammers to find. In the evening the students engaged in a round game of “Electric Clam.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

Katie Delahaye Paine and Friends “Vacation” at Sedge

Katie and two friends arrived on a picture perfect day and the weather only got better while they were on the island. While she originally thought that the three of them would spend the time alone, she agreed to share her vacation spot with Jim and Judy Merritt and Roger Locandro (none of whom she had met before.) As is usual Sedge, even more visitors came and went. Our largest group of visitors was a film crew from NYC who were working on a series of educational videos for Save Barnegat Bay. Pete McLain made a cameo appearance for an interview where he sang the Barnegat Bay song and talked about changes he has seen in the bay over the years. When we were not inundated with guests, we fished (caught several short stripers and a nice bluefish), clammed (raked up enough for a meal), crabbed (trapped a small sampling), together. We hung out and watched the sunset (right over the nuclear power plant at this time of the year). We cooked and ate incredible food! Katie even found time to write.

When Katie told her friends from New England that she was going for a weekend vacation in New Jersey, some of them gave her a bad time. We hope she returned to the North Country with a new respect for our state and for the ability of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife to host guests. We NJ folks had a ball. I hope the New England folks did too. Jim Merritt

Please take this link to view the beautiful photos taken.

Germantown Academy

This year’s sixth and seventh graders were some of the youngest students to ever come from Germantown Academy. One boy celebrated his eleventh birthday on the island. Even though they were young, they were the first group from their school to ever paddle all the way from the house to the dike in Barnegat Inlet. As they made this paddle they frequently rotated leadership of lead and sweep boats until everyone had taken a turn. In addition, they all had to take responsibility for navigation in the rather confusing channels and passages in the 1,900-acre Marine Conservation Zone with very little help from their teachers and the Sedge staff. They did a good job.

Several students fished quite a bit. One caught six sea bass ranging from four to six inches. The most unusual fish that was caught in a seine net was a Coronet Fish. This was a first for Sedge but after consulting the field guide we determined that the fish has a range from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. We credited the fact that at this time of the year eddies break off from the Gulf Stream and bring in fish that are not our typical Barnegat Bay species.