Death of Barnegat Bay can be reversed, Rutgers prof tells state lawmakers

For at least two decades, scientists have known that Barnegat Bay is dying and that an overabundance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is what’s killing it. But what they haven’t known is how much of those nutrients the bay can accept without continuing that downward spiral. But a Rutgers University professor told a state legislative panel on Monday that he helped determine those limits and he urged lawmakers to take action on them to save the popular recreational and commercial waterway. "We have a lot of confidence in what we’ve done," Michael Kennish, professor of estuarine and marine ecology at Rutgers University told a joint meeting of Senate and Assembly environmental committees today in Toms River.

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Picture of the Week: Io Moth Caterpillar

This is the caterpillar of an Io moth, a species of silk moth that so intrigues entomologist Andrei Sourakov that he’s endured a number of the larva’s bee-like stings while studying various specimens…The Io moth also symbolizes this year’s National Moth Week, which kicked off this past Saturday and continues until July 27th (the event has actually gone international). This is “the year of the silk moth,” says co-founder Dave Moskowitz (Enotomology graduate student in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University), and on the day SciFri spoke with him, he singled out the Io as his favorite moth.

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An Exaltation of Moths, Much-Maligned Kin of the Butterfly

The night was still young and a tad too breezy. But already, more than a hundred people were gathered around a series of fluttering, black-lighted sheets in the middle of the New Jersey Meadowlands, waiting for their quarry. They were looking for the nocturnal members of the order Lepidoptera, at one of dozens of events organized in the New York region as part of National Moth Week…For the organizers, the moth events are a way to dispel some of the myths about moths – that they are brown and drab, that they eat tomato plants and nibble at sweaters. "Only a very few are pests," said Elena Tartaglia, who has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University and specializes in hawk moths.

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Barnegat Bay degradation moving south

Two years after hearing a scientist’s dire warning on Barnegat Bay, New Jersey lawmakers heard how the bay’s degradation appears to be spreading south from Ocean County’s biggest suburbs. The northern end of the 42-mile-long estuary already has crippled water quality, a trend that has accelerated during the last 20 years, Rutgers University research professor Michael Kennish told a joint meeting of the Legislature’s environment committees. "The situation has not gotten better; it’s gotten worse in term of nutrients," said Kennish, who leads the university’s Barnegat Bay science efforts and is an author of a recently updated report on the bay’s conditions.

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Cleanup finished at north end of Forsythe refuge, but work goes on in Stafford

A cleanup of Hurricane Sandy debris in the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge will extend into the fall after more debris was found than anticipated, officials said…Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig told the Press in May that chemicals found on the refuge include window cleaner, bleach, solvents, paints and stains, paint strippers, weed killers and insecticides. Mike Kennish a research professor for the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University cautioned against leaving these items in the refuge. Kennish warned that toxic substances and chemicals could infiltrate the food chain and kill marsh grasses, and organisms could pick up the substances and bring them into the salt marsh habitat.

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