Mordecai Island, July 2009

According to the New Jersey Audubon Society:

Mordecai Island is a 45 acre uninhabited coastal salt marsh island contained within the Barnegat Bay complex. The island’s uplands, tidal marshes, salt ponds, intertidal zones and eel grass beds support a variety of breeding and migratory bird species. The site intersects the Manahawkin Bay Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite, designated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as some of NJ’s most significant habitats.

While staying nearby on Long Beach Island (Mordecai is located in the bay betwen LBI and the New Jersey coast), Madam J, Marc AuMarc and David Bronner went on an Extreme Shallow Snorkeling expedition to this environmentally important island. Below is a satellite image of the area showing our expedition route:


Entering the water off the end of Dolphin Street, the team were somewhat dismayed by the visible fuel residue near the shore (as you can see from the map, the LBI side serves as a marina for many boats). Being careful to look out for boat traffic through the area separating Mordecai from LBI, we found the passage to be mostly less than 5 feet deep. Approaching the island, the bay became increasingly shallow and the majority of our expedition was carried out in waters well under 2 feet deep.

Amongst the creatures we encountered were plentiful gray shrimp, hermit crabs, other small crabs, jellyfish, shellfish beds and a variety of small fish. One of the more exciting fish spotted was probably a Northern Pipefish, a relative of sea horses and what was believed to be a juvenile Northern Pipefish which, at less than two inches long, resembled a small piece of red string (for more info and images, scroll down this page. Many small members of an unknown species of fish attempted to eat David, but were unsuccessful.

As can be seen in the photos below, there was generally low visibility, with abundant organic matter in the water, making photography difficult. The water in the shallows was pleasantly warm, however, and very calm in the protected bay. Algaes were abundant in the brackish waters. Though difficult to see at times, the variety of life present was rich and rewarding.

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