Here’s a text-book case of “see it, report it” citizens in action. Thanks to watchful eyes on the river off Lewis Point and Batten Road, on March 1, a large brownish/yellowish slick was spotted on the Navesink River moving with the incoming tide. They contacted Clean Ocean Action who trained them on action steps. As a result the river sleuths:
- · Photographed the slick,
- · were able to take a sample (thanks to tide and winds bringing slick under the dock),
- · and called NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Hotline 877-WARNDEP. Importantly, they requested and received a case number—which allows for follow up and tracking of the incident in the future.
NJDEP contacted David Sorensen, Senior Environmental Health Specialist at the Monmouth County Health Department who arrived on the scene, unfortunately the slick had passed. Fortunately, the river watchers had photos and a sample. David arrived after the slick had passed, but they were able to give him the sample and images they had taken.
Under a microscope, Sorensen identified the slick as an algal bloom of the species, Heterocapsa rotundata, caused by strong sunlight and the way above average February weather. According to Sorensen, blooms like this can be magnified by pollution, and “raise concerns towards shellfish and fin fishes at this time of year. If it was summertime the health department would monitor it closer to see if a health advisory was needed.”
While this turned out to be a “natural event” it is very important to capture them for the record. Algal blooms can be an indicator of fertilizer and other nutrient runoff issues, can affect dissolved oxygen levels in the river which limit the amount of marine life, and certain algal blooms can even release toxins that impact shellfish, finfish, and recreational opportunities.
Great job river watchers!
You too can be a voice for the river, if you see any suspicious pollution, or potential pollution, call DEP and report it. Put this number into your cell phone or keep it handy: 877-WARN DEP