In My Backyard…

by

I have a huge body of water call the Barnegat Bay.  I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a household that lives near the water and owns a boat.  I remember endless summers anchored somewhere in the Barnegat Bay enjoying burgers, jet skis, and the relaxing hum of other boats passing by.  If the sun got too hot, jump overboard and cool off in the water.  We would often swim ashore and see what kind of treasures we would find in the sand.  Life in the summer was glorious

The Barnegat Bay
The Barnegat Bay has 3 main inlets:  on the North end is the Manesquan inlet, the south end hosts the Barnegat inlet, and the far south welcomes the Little Egg inlet.  These are the three different sources of ocean water coming into the Bay.  However, freshwater is constantly entering the bay as well.  Rivers and creeks such as the Toms River, the Metedeconk River, and Reddy Creek also contribute to the Bay’s makeup.  With multiple ways to access the heart of the Barnegat Bay, there are a lot of outlets that contribute to the pollution in the Bay.

Because the Barnegat Bay is an estuary (a body of water where salt and fresh water mix) there are hundreds of different species inhabiting it.  However, there is one unwelcome contributor: nitrogen.  While the element is needed in maintaining a healthy bay, the overabundance of nitrogen is actually a pollutant to the bay.

 
Nitrogen Pollution
Nitrogen pollution allows tiny algae to thrive.  When this happens, it clouds the bay and prevents the vegetation from sunlight.  This means that the sea grass that provides nutrients to many different species, such as crabs, clams, and birds, is not photosynthesizing and will eventually die.  When the sea grass dies, all of the species that depended on it are jeopardized.  After the algae die and sink to the bottom, it blankets the floor of the bay creating an outburst of bacteria.  Here again, bottom feeders like shellfish are again at harm.  For more information on nitrogen pollution, click here.

Not only is the nitrogen pollution causing problems with vegetation and marine life, it decreases the amount of oxygen in the water.  One huge fan of lower oxygen levels are sea nettles, better known as jelly fish.  Ever since I got stung by one of these guys, I get nervous just to dip my feet in the bay.  The reason why the jellies like the Barnegat Bay is because of the warm water in the summer months and the lower oxygen levels that bigger prey do not enjoy.  They can easily adjust to a new habitat and make themselves comfortable here.  Not only do they bother humans, they also munch on the smaller particles of food that other inhabitants eat.  Imagine swimming next to the jelly fish below!

 

 

One Prominent Solution
One of the biggest ways that we can help is by reducing the use of fertilizer products on our lawns.  Any excess water on our lawns will eventually wind up running down to the street and into our sewers which lead to the bay.  Although green grass is nice to look at, it is righteously contributing to the nitrogen problem in the Barnegat Bay.  The Save Barnegat Bay organization is proud to announce the passing of a new law that will lessen the amount of nitrogen in fertilizer.

“The law will be the first in the country to regulate the content of fertilizer rather than merely rely on homeowners to read and follow the directions on the bag as the mechanism for protecting estuaries.”

The Save Barnegat Bay organization has been in existence for 40 years and continues to protect the Barnegat Bay and surrounding areas.  Check out all of the amazing things this organization has already accomplished by clicking here.

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