Join us for a grand celebration of National Estuaries Day! National Estuaries Day is an annual event that celebrates our estuaries, those areas where rivers meet the sea. It is a great opportunity to learn more about these ecosystems and how you can help to protect them. Delaware is celebrating National Estuaries Day through the annual Coastal Clean-up event to be held on Saturday, September 17, 2011. We encourage you to get involved and volunteer for Delaware’s Coastal Clean-up. It is a wonderful way to help protect our coasts and estuaries (such as the Delaware Bay). Visit the Delaware Coastal Clean-up webpage for more information or to register to volunteer. For information about National Estuaries Day (NED) visit the NED webpage.
Snaking through the middle of downtown Dover, past Legislative Hall, sneaking around the Air Force Base, and ending its journey at Bowers Beach is none other than the St. Jones River. In years past, our rivers were thought to be our life line. They were our source of food, transportation, income, entertainment, and sense of beauty. As you journey on the St. Jones River you notice the life that once was, the life that now is, and the life soon to be. As one of the main transportation routes from Dover to Wilmington and Philadelphia, the St. Jones served as a thoroughfare for the farming community. Large ships would transport produce and canned goods from the areas around Dover and ship them into the larger Ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. These ships used to carry the goods originated from the ship yards of Lebanon Landing, Delaware. It is now difficult to imagine that large ships ever traversed this river but photographs show us different. To make the trip easier for the ships to maneuver, the River was straightened by dredging until the mid to late 1930’s. Numerous meanders or bends were cut through to straighten this mighty river. These bends helped slow the flow of water and defined the River. As the St. Jones path was altered by dredging, brackish water (combination of fresh and salt water) moved further upstream changing the plant and animal communities from a more freshwater system to a brackish water system.
The landscape and lifestyles have certainly changed since the pre-colonial times. Now, we see more people and more buildings along the St. Jones River. We see less commercial fisherman, less recreation on the River, and no shipping industry. However, the River never disappoints in providing great bird sightings such as the vibrant great blue herons, petite marsh wrens, energetic kingfishers, the mighty osprey, and the majestic bald eagles. The beauty of the St. Jones River still exists in its stunning marsh lands, rich history, and swift current. If only the River could talk…oh the tale it would tell. To find out more about the St. Jones River, join us on a boat trip to experience its story.
Looking for something fun to do this week? Join a scientist on Thursday, August 11 from 9am – 11 am in the St. Jones Reserve Laboratory (818 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Delaware) to learn more about water quality in our waterways. Be ready to investigate the quality of water by using test kits. This is a great and fun way to how chemistry relates to biology! The program is designed for ages 13 and older. Call the Reserve at (302)739-3436 to register. This free actvity is offered as part of the Reserve’s public programming. For more information about other programs the Reserve offers visit our Calendar of Events page.
Written on: July 29th, 2011 in Research
Every water front property owner knows the value of protecting their shoreline from the damage of erosion. Often times, we choose to harden the shorelines with bulkhead or rip rap to make sure we don’t lose land. But, are there more natural ways to stabilize the ever changing shoreline? Joshua Moody, a former graduate fellow at the Reserve and Master’s degree candidate at Rutgers University is studying the ability of the ribbed mussel (scientifically known as Geukensia demissa) to form physical structures through their nutrient rich waste which creates levees at the edges of marshes to stabilize the marsh shoreline. Results will help determine the potential role of using ribbed mussels as a living shoreline structure. It is believed that “soft armor” barriers (such as ribbed mussels and salt marsh plants) may provide ecological benefits that “hard armoring” (bulkheads and stone revetments) cannot provide by allowing the salt marsh and the intertidal zone to interact. To find out more information about the use of living shorelines in protecting marshes and other properties from erosion visit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary website.
This past week teachers from Delaware and Pennsylvania dawned on a salty adventure exploring the current and potential effects of climate change on the Delaware Estuary. This 2-day exploration was part of the annual 5- day Delaware Estuary Watershed Teacher Workshop conducted by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE). This year the Reserve partnered with PDE to provide information, activities, and tools for teachers to educate their students on climate change and sea level rise. The teachers took part in a boat trip exploring the St. Jones River sub-estuary and heard from experts in the field of education, stewardship, and coastal issues including sea level rise and climate change. To learn more about sea level rise and climate change visit Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs Office . For more information about the teacher workshop and more information about the Delaware Estuary visit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Thank You Delaware Bay campaign.