Our family went for a week of R&R in Seaside Park, New Jersey, located on a barrier island, just off the coast of central New Jersey. We spent a lot of time on the beach and it really got me back into the beauty of the ocean. The water was such a beautiful green turquoise color, which contrasted with the white foam of the waves and sandy beaches. The manager of the hotel we are staying at told me that the water quality has improved greatly since he was a kid in the 1970s. The Clean Water Act of 1972 reduced the amount of discharge from factories and improved waste water treatment systems. The manager said the waters were brownish in his childhood. The pollution is now subtle, with a growing population building closer to the shore, equates to numerous smaller sources of runoff from fertilizer from lawns, rain water off paved roads, etc. Ocean County, where Seaside Park is has grown in population since the Clean Water Act by almost 400,000 people. The population of New Jersey is also growing rapidly, so this is an issue they will be dealing more with as more people put pressure on the environment. If it was up to me, no one would build within a determined distance from any body of water.
I captured some of the shore wildlife on digital film while I was here. Above is the Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) the iconic bird of the Jersey Shore and most of the Atlantic Coast. They were hanging around our area on the beach, looking for leftovers from our picnic lunch. I also saw a lot of Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) which were abundant on the shore and are the bird most people think of when they hear seagull.
A couple of days ago the water and beach were full of Sea Walnuts. There were millions of them in the water, so much so that it became a news story on the local television station. The looked like jelly fish eggs, but they are ctenophores (comb jellies). This is a phylum of marine animals very similar to jelly fish. They do not sting and are made of 97% water, but it was a bit gross to feel them all over your body and hair. They were gone the next day. I took a photo of a couple of them below. They had a purple dot to one side and some had two small antennae, like a snail on them. I also saw two dolphins on my morning run.
The beaches of New Jersey reminded Nadia and me of Perth, Australia and it was refreshing to get back in touch with the open ocean. The attraction of the Atlantic was stirred in me and it was a great way to end our summer holidays.