For three years, 11 research projects studied the brackish Barnegat Bay from top to bottom. At Ocean County College, they revealed their findings… The good: “Based upon the kinds of animals that are living in the sediment, their abundance, how tolerant they are to stresses that Barnegat Bay is in good shape,” said Gary Tacghon, Director, Marine Science, Rutgers University… The bad: “Bird reproductivity has declined with these personal watercrafts getting too close. The birds flush, they leave their nests, every time a boat comes too close, it could be a few minutes, that’s a couple minutes the birds are not sitting on their nests, and incubating the eggs,” said Eden Buenaventura, graduate student at Rutgers University… The state calls the Barnegat Bay research so important and so extraordinary, that it’s making it available to world and plans to use this research for years to come, because as it says, improving Barnegat bay won’t happen over night.
The lieutenant governor and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped Rutgers cut the ribbon on the nearly 80,000-square foot New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health… “You’re going to change the model from treatment to wellness. You’re going to teach us all the value of eating right, of taking care of ourselves, and therefore, in the long run change the healthcare model for not just New Jersey, but the world,” Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said… The Institute encourages children to share recipes with parents. For adults and the whole family, there’s the healthy eating courtyard called Harvest, where a chef cooks tuna and veggies for Scott Loveless… “You can not make a wrong choice in Harvest. It’s minimally processed food. It’s very healthy. It’s really remarkable how good food can taste,” said Founding Director Peter Gillies.
If you’re a customer of United Water, there’s a rate hike in store for you. How much is up to the Board of Public Utilities and the Ratepayer Advocate. United Water has asked for 18 percent… “Clearly they’re trying to recover money that they’ve already been spent,” said Daniel Van Abs, associate professor at Rutgers University… Money that’s been spent on repairs to existing infrastructure, according to the company. That’s because the pipes underground that carry water from treatment plants to our homes and businesses are decrepit. They’re more than 50 years-old in the suburbs, and more than 100 years-old in cities. They’re leaking, also. For every four gallons of clean water that flows through a faucet, one is lost underground through broken pipes. For United Water, it equals 10 billion gallons yearly. And that’s a problem across the state, no matter who your provider is… Van Abs says that United Water customers don’t have much of an alternative. “The amount of water that we actually drink is a very, very small percentage of the water we use, maybe only 3-4 percent, so even if everything you drank was bottled water, that you purchased at a much higher cost than tap water, it would make no change in your rated.”
With more than 1,000 animals on 20 acres, the Turtle Back Zoo is packed with species that make us squeal, and it turns out, they have something in common… “Big eyes, some pudginess, shuffling, or moving in some kind of awkward, loping, manner. Anything that falls over a lot we tend to find adorable,” said Nina Fefferman… Case in point: This red panda with its bright eyes, small face and soft coat. Fefferman, an evolutionary biology professor at Rutgers, says those are all examples of “signaling” – what an animal’s look conveys to others…. When we can read an animal’s expression, we feel more comfortable, which makes it a winning trait for cuteness. For example, think of a family dog… “You can tell when a dog is happy; tail position, ear position, facial muscle position. It’s eliciting food, it’s eliciting love, it’s eliciting care. All of those things we’ve bred it to do that we find endearing,” Fefferman said.
It’s the new trend. The kind of severe storm and flooding that use to hit our region once every 500 years, is now pummeling us every 24… “Prior to the industrial revolution, a storm surge of this size was occurring once in seven generations. Now a storm surge of that size is occurring twice in a generation,” said Professor Benjamin Horton, Professor at Rutgers University Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences… Horton and researchers at Princeton, Penn State, Tufts and MIT believe it’s because sea levels are rising. They say the Earth is getting warmer and water temperature is rising along with it… “If we move into the 21 century, particularly with the rates of sea level rise, we are anticipating events such as Hurricane Sandy may be as common as occurring every other decade,” said Horton.
A simple question about what matters most for pollinating plants and crops so pick-your-own customers and the world can have fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers: to be abundant with many kinds of wild bees or to be abundant with lots of wild bees… For two years, Rutgers ecologist Winfree and a research team studied three New Jersey farms- one with blueberries, one with cranberries and Honey Brook Organic Farm’s watermelon patch… “And it turns out the answer is mostly the latter, not completely, but mostly. To a first approximation, just having a lot of the wild, native bees on your farm will be giving you a lot of crop pollination,” said Rachael Winfree… “There are some bee species that are super abundant. There’s one bumblebee in particular, called ‘Bombus impatiens,’ a very common bumblebee, it’s an excellent pollinator, and it might be easily half of the individual bees we would find on a given farm. So, if that’s the case, it’s pretty likely the case that a few species are enough to do a lot of your pollination,” she said.