What Tales do Jersey Whales Tell?

What Tales do Jersey Whales Tell?

When a 33-ton humpback whale breaches in the waters of New Jersey’s Little Egg Inlet, that saying something. Not only about the health of an estuary that can host such a magnificent creature, but also about its capacity to support fishing, boating, and other recreational industries that contribute $44+ billion to the New Jersey economy every year.

The spring arrival of humpbacks on the Jersey coast tells us that the conservation efforts of our Jacques Cousteau Reserve and their partners are working. It’s also tells them that it’s time to get ready for the field work and education programs that bring more than 2,000 students and 7,000 visitors to the Reserve each year.

Thank you, humpback whales! Your presence in the waters of New Jersey inspires us to work harder to meet the challenges of 2020.

DC Download: August 2019

DC Download: August 2019

In early August, congressional staff took to the water to see how Reserves protect places and people on Chesapeake Bay.

We’re happy to see members of Congress and their staff beat the DC heat this summer in the best way possible—by visiting Reserves around the country!

A big NERRA thank you to the co-chairs of the Estuaries Caucus—Representatives Bill Posey (FL), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Rick Larsen (WA), and Brian Mast (FL). Earlier this month, they brought a group of congressional staff to our Maryland Reserve so they could learn how place-based programs build stronger communities.

The outing was hosted by Reserve staff with support from their partners at Patuxent River Park and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management. Staff from the offices of Representatives Bonamici (OR), Jared Huffman (CA), Frank Pallone (NJ), Alan Lowenthal (CA), Jerry McNerney (CA), and members of the subcommittee for House CJS Appropriations got a hands-on opportunity to learn more about our Reserves and enjoy a beautiful day on Chesapeake Bay.

In the midwest, our Lake Superior Reserve hosted staff from the offices of Senator Tammy Baldwin’s and Representative Pete Stauber’s (MN). Our Great Lakes representatives in Congress have consistently demonstrated that they are true champions of the coasts and our Reserves and we thank them for that!

Colleene Thomas (second from right), senior policy advisor from Senator Baldwin’s office, joined Lake Superior Reserve staff and partners for a trip on the the R2512. This NOAA-supported vessel is used for research, monitoring and education in near-shore environments.

In the Mid Atlantic, the Jacques Cousteau Reserve hosted staff from Senator Cory Booker’s (NJ) office. Alongside tours of the Reserve’s Grassle Trail, Marine Field Station, Life on the Edge exhibit, and the Sandy Marsh restoration site, Booker’s staff gained a new appreciation of the entire Reserve System.

Are you planning to host congressional representatives at your Reserve in the coming months? Let us know at info@nerra.org.

Two of Senator Booker’s staff—Sea Grant Fellow Ben Hughey and Project Specialist Kaitlin McGuinness (center)—went from ship to shore to learn about monitoring and restoration at our New Jersey Reserve.

Getting to Resilience in New Jersey

Getting to Resilience in New Jersey

We were pleased (but not surprised) to see the Jacques Cousteau Reserve-led Getting to Resilience community planning tool cited in the Northeast Chapter of the National Climate Assessment.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Reserve emerged as a trusted resource for the state’s communities as they adapt to a changing climate.  

Jacques Cousteau’s strong partnerships with local communities, state agencies, and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management positioned it well to put federal adaptation tools and decision support frameworks to work for the state. Since the Getting to Resilience technical assistance project launched in 2013, almost 60 New Jersey communities have put it to work as they seek to reduce vulnerability and increase preparedness through planning, mitigation, and adaptation.

“This process not only helps communities enhance their preparedness for extreme storms and flooding, it can be worth valuable points through FEMA’s Community Rating System and Sustainable Jersey,” says Lisa Auermuller, assistant manager and coastal training program coordinator for the Jacques Cousteau Reserve. “The JC NERR resilience team has served as a trusted source for the most up-to-date science and a neutrally facilitated process that brings municipal leaders together on these important issues in a format that likely would not have happened without our assistance.”

For example, the community of Perth Amboy’s strategic position at the opening of Raritan Bay has allowed the city to grow and flourish during its 300-year history. However, this exposure also puts the economically important waterfront at risk to flooding and storm damage. Urban development also creates flooding problems for the community. The city brought Jacques Cousteau staff in to facilitate the Getting to Resilience process to better inform decision making and planning as the community experiences a period of active revitalization and redevelopment.


Was your Reserve referenced in the recently released National Climate Assessment? Let us know at info@nerra.org.

Advancing the Science: NERRS Research

Advancing the Science: NERRS Research

Thanks to Miriam Sutton for this photo of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve.

The January 2018 edition of Estuaries and Coasts highlighted NERRS research with a special section: “The National Estuarine Research Reserve System: An Integrated Network of Research and Monitoring Sites Supporting Coastal Zone Management.”

The seven articles in this special section paint a compelling picture of the breadth and importance of reserve research, from the effects of hypoxia on fish growth and oyster survival in California to the relationship between shrimp and water quality and weather in South Carolina.

Congratulations to guest editors Mike Kennish (New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau Reserve) and Ed Buskey (Texas’ Mission-Aransas Reserve) and to all the reserve authors whose research is highlighted in this edition of the journal and collectively, shows the value of our national system. You do us proud.

Reserve Allstar: Jacques Cousteau’s Mike Kennish

Reserve Allstar: Jacques Cousteau’s Mike Kennish

Mike Kennish, Research Coordinator at New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau NERR and research professor at Rutgers University, has been endorsed by Marquis Who’s Who as a leader in the coastal and marine sciences field.
This premier publisher of biographical profiles has cited Mike for his outstanding contributions to the field of estuarine, coastal, and marine sciences. As the recipient of the publication’s 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, Mike has been recognized for his seminal research of anthropogenic effects on estuarine, coastal, and marine environments, and his numerous scholarly books and other publications that have served to educate a generation of young scientists.

“I have been fortunate to be part of a talented and innovative group of research coordinators in the NERRS who are  engaged in critically important investigations of the most complex and challenging environmental issues facing the nation today,” says Mike. “It has been rewarding to be part of a concerted effort of the research coordinators to support science-based decision-making needed to effectively restore, maintain, and protect these coastal environments.”

We always knew he was an all star, now everyone else knows, too; way to go Mike!

Mid-Atlantic Reserves Serve up 30 Years of Fisheries Data

Mid-Atlantic Reserves Serve up 30 Years of Fisheries Data

Analysis of 30 years’ worth of larval fish samples from three research reserves is now available through www.SEAMAP.org

Fisheries management decisions throughout the Mid-Atlantic are benefiting from this information. It helps them expand their understanding of current conditions and changes, including the relative abundance of species and community composition.

The project also broadened the impact of the reserves’ system-wide environmental monitoring data by integrating these data with the fisheries data. For example, the two data sets together allow researchers to analyze larval winter flounder data relative to climate change.

The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, in partnership with Rutgers University and Reserves in the Carolinas, created the portal.

ReservesJacques Cousteau, New Jersey