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!