Saturday, August 15, 2015

2015 Molly: It's Over Already?

This internship has taught me more than I could have ever expected. Not only have I gained extremely valuable skills from hands-on field work in coastal science, I have also learned how to be a better person in general. My favorite thing about working for NH Sea Grant this summer has been the diversity of experiences I have had. 

I learned about sand dune restoration – what plants are best, how to plant them, and most importantly how to involve the community. 

I was also part of the planning stages of a riparian buffer restoration project for the Sagamore-Hampton golf course. My favorite part about that project was being a part of the meeting with the owner and the superintendent of the golf course. It showed that restoration projects require clear communication between the people implementing the restoration and those who own/have the most knowledge about the use of the property. It was cool to be a part of a unique project that can serve as a model for other golf courses in the area that want to reduce their impact on the Great Bay Estuary. 

The eel monitoring project and Lubberland Creek baseline fish survey with the Coastal Research Volunteers was very eye-opening for me. It provided me with practice in collecting field data, but also with teaching others how to collect data too. It was inspiring to meet these volunteers - people who care deeply about the natural world and take time out of their day to contribute to local research.  More proof that science couldn’t happen without the cooperation of people.

One of the best parts of this internship was the experience of working under Alyson Eberhardt and having Myrilla Hartkopf as my partner. Alyson showed me how to be a more organized person and to give my attention and effort to the task at hand no matter how many other things are going on.  She always kept us on our toes and challenged us to try new things, and this helped us grow as aspiring scientists and citizens. I have never worked as closely with a coworker as I did with Myrilla. We were partners for every project and task that Alyson gave us, and as someone used to working on things alone this helped me become a better team member and coworker. If problems came up, Myrilla and I were able to trouble-shoot them together instead of always having to ask Alyson for help. 

Walking away from this internship and into my final year as an undergraduate at UNH, I am more prepared and aware to enter the world outside of college. The connections and friendships I have made through this internship serve as a support system for me as I continue my journey. The experience and skill I have gained in coastal research and citizen science empower me to help with related projects in the Seacoast area and other places in the world. 

Thank you NH Sea Grant and those who support them, it has been an amazing summer.

Best regards,

Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Megan: From Green Crabs to Micro Plastics

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a busy summer so far! During the past few weeks I've been continuing to work on both the green crab project and the integrated multi trophic aquaculture project, while also diving into other projects such as a micro plastics monitoring project and a cleanup on Appledore Island. This fellowship has given me the opportunity to learn so much about different sampling methods as well as different experiment approaches.  

Now for the green crab update! So far only one green crab has molted that was not in our experimental group. It was really cool to see the crab just after it had molted - it was very soft and red. However, in just 24 hours the crab already had a fairly hard shell, and after 48 hours the crab had an even firmer shell that was completely green in color! Since the crab becomes firm so quickly, they would need to be flash frozen within the first day of their molting. 
Female Green Crab just after molting
Female Green Crab 48 hours after molting
We are continuing to monitor the crabs in our initial group, but since the crabs haven't molted within the month, we decided to collect a new group and begin the experiment again with new crabs in a separate tank. We made our second group smaller, with 10 control female crabs and 10 experimental (scratched) female crabs because we discovered that working with and observing 50 crabs was too difficult. For this project, it was especially difficult since we need to document and observe morphological features of all crabs in our experiment. Hopefully our second round of the experiment will go more smoothly than our first! We had a few bumps in the road regarding tagging and identification, tank set up and maintenance, crabs becoming gravid and mortality. Working through all of these issues has taught me a lot about the scientific process and thinking outside the box to problem solve.

Mussel line with collected 
spat from last fall
New mussel line
My second update is from the integrated multi trophic aquaculture project! We set out new lines to collect mussel spat with some older lines that already have spat from last fall. The lines should collect the spat within the next few weeks. The Irish moss we collected from Fort Stark has been set out in rope lines to grow vertically, and is doing fairly well. However, it seems the same treatment with Gracilaria does not work well and we lost most of it from falling out of the rope. We are thinking that if we can collect more Gracilaria, we will try growing in a box set up floating at the surface. Since the temperatures have warmed considerably and the trout have gotten much bigger, we transferred them offshore a bit to the UNH aquaculture site. We are continuing to feed them and they will be large enough to sell in a few weeks time!  

Rozalia Project Group and I on Appledore preparing for the clean up  

 Lastly, I've had the opportunity these past couple weeks to work with Gabby Bradt on her micro plastics monitoring project as well as a clean up on Appledore Island! For the monitoring project, samples are collected at the 5 most at risk beaches in New Hampshire (Jenness, Hampton Harbor, Hampton Beach, North Hampton Beach, and Wallis Sands) each month and processed by categorizing any plastic found. Quadrats are set up at the rack line on the beach and sand is run through a series of sieves, down to 1mm. Any plastic is collected from the larger sieves, while all other remnants are left on the beach. After going through the final sieve, all remnants are saved and looked at under a microscope later for categorizing. It was fun to clean up the beach a little, while collecting data so that we will be able to  see a trend in the types of plastics found and their distribution. 

Cleaning up the shoreline of Appledore
Island (note the buoys in the center of the picture)

We also did some plastic clean up on Appledore Island, but instead of micro plastics we were looking for large plastic debris. We spent the day working with a high school group taking a 2-week course on the island, as well as a group working with the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean. What was most surprising to me was that the majority of the plastic trash we found was fishing gear; fishing lines, buoys, lobster traps, ropes, and large bits of Styrofoam. Since Appledore is so remote, I had the idea that there actually wouldn’t be very much trash or plastic to pick up. 
However, I quickly saw that this was not the case!

I’m very eager to continue working with both Michael and Gabby on all of these projects and more opportunities to come! This summer has been an absolute blast so far and it’s coming to an end too quickly. Be on the look out for another update coming soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Molly: Adventures in Restoration

From digging infinite holes in dry sand to almost getting hit by golf balls, I have learned so much as a Doyle Fellow so far this summer! Working on the dune restoration projects have shown me the importance of involving the community; without their understanding and cooperation the restoration would not be successful. Check out Myrilla’s latest post for more on the dune work.

The past two weeks we have jumped on to a relatively new project: Cornelius Brook Riparian Buffer Restoration on the Sagamore-Hampton golf course in North Hampton. Cornelius brook is part of the Winnicut watershed, which drains to the Great Bay. The brook runs through their course, and past studies show it is impaired due to high nitrogen and phosphorus levels. This year with our help, management of the golf course wants to restore vegetation along the brook to filter out nutrients and protect the stream. We did a survey of the course two weeks ago to identify areas for restoration and developed a rough plan of what actions should be done (either to stop mowing or to plant trees and shrubs). Although we tried our best to stay out of the way of the golfers that morning, we got distracted by fish nests in a pond and heard "Hey ladies, watch out!" being yelled from a tee nearby. We soon realized we were right in the middle of the fairway... yikes!
The "brook" as it enters the golf course.
Definitely in need of some support from trees and shrubs.
No mow area - native grasses help filter out nutrients.
We hope to plant wet tolerant trees and shrubs on right side of brook.
 Me and tall riparian shrub near the pond. Hoping to plant more
 shrubs similar to this one along the brook to trap nutrients.
This past week, Myrilla, Alyson and I met with the owner and the superintendent of the club to discuss the areas we identified as potential to be restored. We all sat around a big map of the course and drew on it areas where we could plant trees and shrubs. The representatives from the golf course were really enthusiastic about the project, and it solidified my realization that restoration work wouldn’t be successful without the collaboration of all parties involved. It was a great learning experience to be part of the planning stages of a restoration project. In the upcoming weeks we will meet with a horticulturist to determine the best trees and shrubs for the conditions on the golf course, as well as take water quality samples to move the project along. Additionally, Myrilla and I will create a comprehensive educational poster describing the restoration effort to members of the golf club -  keeping them in the loop about what their club is doing to reduce their impact on the Great Bay.

Today we had a luncheon at the NH Sea Grant office where most of the interns from NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension shared some photos and experiences of their work so far this summer. It was awesome to hear about what everyone else has been doing, and to have the support from each other and our mentors. Sharing with everyone gave me a sense of immediate community; being able to see faces of people interested in the work we've been doing was encouraging and empowering. 

I am excited to continue work on the golf course as well as out in the dunes, or wherever else the summer may take us! Check back for an update soon - the summer is flying by!

Until next time,

Summer's Heating up in the Dunes

Hello Everyone! 

Myrilla here,reporting in to give you all another adventure filled update on my summer so far at NH Sea Grant. Working alongside my fellow intern Molly McGovern we have experience a diverse experience of field work so far.

The first few weeks Molly and I jump feet first into the dunes, helping plant American beachgrass and other native dune plants on Plum Island for the Newbury sand dune project. We had an awesome group of ladies out with us to get as many plants in before the heat came. We manage to get through most of the plants we had in cold storage but unfortunately with the mid-summer heat it is too hot to plant. However, this does not stop the task force as we are much engaged on this project.

 We have also broke grounds on the riparian buffer restoration project at the Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club. Breaking out our checkered shorts and dusting off our clubs we tried to act like we were fluent in the golf lingo as we surveyed the greens for potential buffer areas. But make sure to check out Molly’s posting about the buffer project!


At Hampton State Park, in the beginning of the summer, we worked with Dover High School students, who brought beach pea plants they propagated at their greenhouses. They helped us plant the beach pea along with American beachgrass in the restoration area. Later on Molly, Alyson, and I went back out in the field too collected some data on the garden. With our quadrat square( ½ M square), tape measure, and field journal we measured out the distanced of the each garden and generated random numbers to have unbiased data collection. With the quadrat square in hand we gave it a toss to give us a sampling point and collected information on the plants; dead or alive and if any runners came up from the parent plant. This information is important to collect because it will give us details for the next planting cycle. Being out in the field has given me valuable experience in habitat restoration field work techniques along with working with community engagement that I will be able to carry on in my future education and work experience.

 Along with working in the dunes, Molly and I have been working on a website for the dune restoration project that will be up soon on the NH Sea grant website! The website will be full of wonderful information on what dunes are the importance of them, the restoration project and details for each site. We hope you enjoy the information and pictures, as well as find the site easy to maneuver around with!

A quick update, Alyson’s wetland permit has just been approved ( happy dance!) and we are able to get out in the field to start work in Harbor state park. At the park we will be setting up rope fencing along to dunes to help keep beach goers off the dunes and on the right path. We have also drawn up some signs to educate the public on the project and get them involved.

It’s hard to believe it is already midway through July and I’m over halfway done my internship! But I hope you enjoy the posting and  check in later for my future posting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Megan: First Few Weeks

Hello! My name is Megan Peavey and I will be a senior next fall at the University of New Hampshire studying Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology. I am very excited to be working with NH Sea Grant as a Doyle Fellow this summer. I am working with two mentors in fisheries and aquaculture – Michael Chambers and Gabriela (Gabby) Bradt. In the first few weeks, I have already learned so much and I’ve started some different projects that I will share with you!

One project I’ve been working on with Michael Chambers and a few others this summer is an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) of rainbow trout, blue mussels, and seaweed at the UNH aquaculture site off the coast of the Coastal Marine Lab in New Castle, NH. The goal of this ongoing project is to investigate sustainable aquaculture practices in the NH area, as well as get local fisherman involved in utilizing aquaculture to augment their wild catch. So far, we have received the fish from the hatchery in Ossipee, NH and placed them within nets we coated with blue “anti-fowling” paint underneath the Judd-Greg Research pier. Using the anti-fowling paint helps prevent other organisms (such as algae, tunicates, bryozoans, etc.) from colonizing on the nets and reducing the efficiency of the system. We feed the fish a moist diet that is designed to help the fish transition from fresh to salt water twice a day. Once the fish get a bit larger, we will transport them to the UNH aquaculture site location.

As for the blue mussel and seaweed components of the project, we are cleaning off old mussel lines and preparing the new ones to collect the mussel spat (mussel larva that has attached to a surface). Sugar kelp is the species of seaweed usually grown and it is a winter crop, meaning it is grown all winter and harvested in the spring. Although sugar kelp grows well in the winter, it doesn’t grow as well in warmer temperatures and too many epiphytes grow upon it during the summer months making it unsuitable for summer. Last week, we collected two types of seaweed from Fort Stark: Gracilaria and Irish Moss. We are investigating the possibility of growing these two species in the summer alongside the blue mussels and rainbow trout.
Gracilaria (thin red seaweed) and
Fucus species (green thicker seaweed)
Irish Moss

With Gabby Bradt, I’ve been working on a project focusing on the European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas). These crabs are an invasive species that were introduced from Europe in the 1800s, and again in the 1900s. By now, they have become well established along the East Coast of the U.S. and are detrimental to our ecosystems here, devastating populations of mussels, clams, and other species. This is not only a problem for ecosystem structure, but also economically for fishermen and clam diggers. The goal of our project is to better understand molting behavior and look for morphological cues for molting in green crabs. With this information, we hope to create something similar to the soft-shell industry for blue crabs. After molting, crabs are in the soft-shell stage, and at this point they are usually fried or cooked in a variety of ways, and eaten. Although this is common practice for blue crabs, it isn’t with green crabs. Since green crabs are fairly small, they are more marketable as a soft-shell crab than a whole crab that a chef would have to pick the meat out of. The idea is that one way to control the population of European Green Crabs would be to eat them, similar to projects in Florida that aim to control lion fish populations that are out of control.

So far we have collected 100 female crabs, and 12 male crabs at the Hampton Public Pier in Hampton, NH to use in our experiment. We are conducting the experiment in two outdoor tanks at the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory in Durham, NH. 50 of the female crabs are in one tank - 25 are controls, with nothing done to them except for tagging, while the remaining 25 have scratched carapaces along with their tags. All remaining crabs (50 females and 12 males) are in a tank together to observe if pheromones from different sexes have any influence on molting.

Green Crab from control group

Trap used for catching crabs @ Hampton Pier
Green Crab from experimental (scratched carapace) group

In the past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about experimental design and how to adapt when something doesn’t work or needs to be adjusted. I have also learned all sorts of marine skills from knot tying to net repair, and I’m sure this is only the beginning and it has been a whirlwind first few weeks. Stay tuned for an update on these to projects as well as others to come!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 Molly: First Impressions

Hello everyone! My name is Molly McGovern – I am very excited and grateful to be working with NH Sea Grant on the Healthy Coastal Ecosystems projects as a Doyle Fellow this summer. Working alongside intern Myrilla Hartkopf, I am mentored by the awesome Alyson Eberhardt: Coastal Ecosystems Specialist for NHSG and UNH Cooperative Extension.

This fellowship will provide an enriching transition into my senior year at the University of New Hampshire as an Environmental Conservation Studies major. Growing up in New Jersey I was always captivated by the ever-changing coastal and marine ecosystems. Now that I have lived in New Hampshire since 2013, I have learned a lot not only about the ecosystems themselves, but also humans’ role in understanding and conserving them. 

I am excited to gain valuable experience in habitat restoration field work techniques as well as how to communicate successfully with communities and volunteers. There are three sand dune restoration projects that we will be working on this summer, each requiring communication with a diverse group of stakeholders and volunteers from the community and nearby schools. I am especially excited to be part of the beginning stages of a riparian buffer restoration project at the Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club. This will involve water quality monitoring as well as surveys of vegetation communities. I will also have the chance of helping with NH Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteers’ projects which include eel monitoring, oyster restoration and beach microplastics monitoring.

Already, I’ve had the chance to participate in several of these projects in the field. My first day on the job was a perfect introduction to the NH Sea Grant world: a baseline fish survey of Lubberland Creek in the rain. We had a great posse of samplers including representatives from the Nature Conservancy, NHSG’s Coastal Research Volunteers, and even Dave from the podcast “Fish Nerds”. Trudging through the vegetated upper creek down into the salt marsh with sein nets and buckets, we identified, counted and measured fish species at several sites along the transect. I learned a lot about how the natural community can shift drastically in such a relatively small area in estuaries, as well as how to collect data for fish monitoring. Check out NHSG's flickr account for more photographs of the field day, as well as other photos of NHSG happenings:

Me, Alyson and two volunteers scour through the caught debris to find and measure fish on Lubberland Creek. Photograph taken by Becky Zeiber
My second day in the field and Myrilla’s first was at Hampton Beach State Park where Dover High School students brought beach pea plants they propagated at their greenhouses. They helped us plant the beach pea along with American beachgrass in the restoration area. It was awesome to meet younger people excited to learn about plants, dunes and the restoration project.

For the past two weeks Myrilla and I have been helping plant American beachgrass and other native dune plants on Plum Island for the Newbury sand dune project. We have had a solid team of ladies putting plants in the ground everyday, hoping to beat the heat and get as much area planted as possible. Check out Myrilla’s first post to learn more about our experiences with the dune projects so far.
An average day planting beachgrass on Plum Island, Newbury, MA (Photograph by Natalie Feldsine)
One of my favorite experiences so far has been the eel monitoring, carried out by NHSG Coastal Research Volunteers. Alyson’s extensive knowledge has opened my eyes to how amazing eels are, and how important it is to communicate that information to people - especially those whose lifestyles and decisions affect the eels. 

I am really looking forward to working with more volunteers and community members on these projects. Science is very important, but being able to communicate it is even more vital. As the weeks continue I know I will learn more about how to successfully do so! 

In the next few weeks we will continue working in the dunes, as well as starting work on the riparian buffer project. I’m curious to meet the other NH Sea Grant and NH Cooperative Extension interns to learn more about their projects for the summer. Look out for an update in the near future!


First Week At Sea Grant

Hello, all! My name is Myrilla Hartkopf and I’m a junior at the University of New Hampshire, studying Environmental Conservation and Sustainability with a concentration in Marine conservation. I’m excited to join UNH Cooperative extension and NH Sea Grant family as the Costal Habitat Restoration intern this summer. I will be working with Alyson Eberhardt and the other intern, Molly McGovern, collaborating active outreach and education for the public to incorporate healthy ecosystems in the local communities.

One project I will be working on this summer is Sand Dune Restoration plan to help rebuild and restore the sand bars along the coast. This project incorporates four towns of Hampton and Seabrook NH, and Salisbury and Newburyport, MA. Sand Dunes are important to the costal ecosystem because they provided a natural buffer from storm events and protect the coastline against flooding and erosion associated with storms. The dunes at these sites have been self-sustaining and highly functioning system but with the rapid development on the coastline have destroyed most of the dunes and what remains are weak patchy areas along the coast. This is where we come in! I will be working with other interns planting beach grass in the dunes to help re-vegetate and resort portions of the dunes associated with storm impacts and public access. With this project I will help with the revegatation program engaging community members and NH Sea Grant’s Costal Research Volunteers to help educate and increase their understanding of the threats to costal sand dune habitats and the role of human actions have on them. With this education, it will encourage a stronger connection between connecting citizens to the natural resource issues. I’ve already got my hands deep in the sand with planting but here is lots more to do and can’t wait for beach field days to start rolling!

Along with the Sand Dune restoration I will also have the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects like eel monitoring in the Oyster River and also working with local Hampton golf course to help develop habitat restoration site plan for imputing a buffer systems for them. So make sure to check out Molly’s Blog for more information about the buffers!

It sure is going to be a busy summer full of exciting new projects but summer spent on the water is something I can’t complain about! Stay tuned for more about my summer as we hit the beaches next week for more planting.

Summer 2015

New Hampshire Sea Grant would like to welcome our Doyle Fellows and UNH Cooperative Extension intern for the summer.

Meagan Peavey will be mentored by Michael Chambers in Aquaculture, Molly McGovern and Myrilla Hartkopf will be mentored by Alyson Eberhardt in Healthy Coastal Ecosystems.

All three of our UNH undergraduates have already jumped in with great enthusiasm. Follow their stories and experiences during this eight-week fellowship.