Building a Stronger Coast
Saving the horseshoe crabs for the birds

Red knots

April 8, 2016 - The beaches along Delaware Bay are some of the most critically important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds, many of which are undergoing alarming declines. Without a jumbo snack of horseshoe crab eggs, these birds might not make it on their long-distance migration. To help, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working at numerous sites along the Delaware Bay to restore beaches and improve conditions for spawning horseshoe crabs, thereby helping support migratory shorebirds.

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Credit: Gregory Breese/USFWS


Teamwork Gets the Oyster Reefs Built at Gandy’s Beach, NJ

Fish and Wildlife Service and Nature Conservancy staff joined Stockton College students to work on the Gandy's Beach/Nantuxent Creek living shoreline installation.

April 6, 2016 - Work continues on a multi-year project to build 3,000 feet of living shoreline at Gandy’s Beach in southern New Jersey, and volunteers are the key to making it happen.

Students from Stockton College joined staff from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in March to construct approximately 300 linear feet of living shoreline. And in April, volunteers are coming out on multiple days to help build oyster castles, which are the building blocks of the living shoreline. Approximately 40-60 eighth grade students from Connecticut will participate through Rutgers University Project PORTS, which engages school communities in oyster restoration projects.

The living shoreline will act as a breakwater to protect about one mile of sandy beach and adjacent salt marsh. The breakwater is projected to reduce incoming wave energy by up to 40 percent. In 2015, volunteers helped build and install the first four oyster reef breakwater structures off the coast at Gandy’s Beach.

Gandy's Beach is currently a Nature Conservancy Preserve along an area of undeveloped shoreline on the Delaware Bay that provides valuable habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. Its shore has been increasingly vulnerable to coastal erosion and was considerably impacted by storm surge from Hurricane Sandy.

Learn more about the project
See photos from past volunteer events to build oyster reefs at Gandy’s


Fish and Wildlife Service and Nature Conservancy staff joined Stockton College students to work on the Gandy's Beach/Nantuxent Creek living shoreline installation.
Credit: Josh Moody/Partnership for the Delaware Estuary


Up to 70 Percent of Northeast Coast Could Adapt to Sea-Level Rise

An aerial view of the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge coast

March 18, 2016 - Stay dry or drown — that’s been the standard position for coastlines in the face of sea-level rise. Now a new study shows that up to 70 percent of Northeast coastal areas have another option — adapt.

The study by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that many of the Northeast’s coastal habitats — such as marshes, barrier islands and beaches – have the ability to change and respond to rising sea levels. This finding contrasts sharply with most sea-level rise models that forecast submersion. Published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study uses a new computer model that incorporates the ability of coastal habitats to dynamically respond to change, such as through erosion or deposition. Previous forecasting models — referred to as “bathtub models” — have failed to include this dynamic response and instead projected drowning as the only outcome for coasts as oceans rise.

For example, the researchers looked at Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and found that with standard “bathtub models,” 70 percent of the coastline is predicted to be under water by 2020. However, using their new dynamic response model, they find that only 2 percent of the area is likely to inundate by that time.

The new computer model was developed in collaboration with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and with initial guidance from a decision-making process at the USFWS North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperation (LCC).

Find out more — read the USGS press release.



An aerial view of the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge coast.
Credit: USFWS


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Last updated: April 7, 2016