The Kayak Chronicles ©

by Darren Caffery


Herring Island Cleanup

Brick Township, NJ

Saturday June 11th, 2005

Since Herring Island is a frequent rest area and lunch stops for many of my Metedeconk River and Barnegat Bay kayak paddles, I decided to help the cleanup effort there after seeing it advertised on the Save Barnegat Bay website.


Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association members Eric Fleming, Craig Gaudreau and I launched into the Metedeconk River from a private launch site on the south shore of the Metedeconk river at around 8:45 am on Saturday. Conditions on the river were very tame. There was little wind and boat traffic and the air temperature was already in the 80's.  After a short paddle downriver we arrived at Herring Island shortly after 9 am. Herring Island sits in the northernmost portion of the Barnegat Bay just north of the Mantoloking Bridge. Since it is part of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, we were very careful not to upset any nesting birds.


Although the cleanup wasn’t an official Save Barnegat Bay event, SBB member Tom Van Nostrand and his group and family organized it and were already on the island to begin the cleanup work when us paddlers arrived.   He used his powerboat to shuttle the large debris and trash bags to a dumpster on the mainland which was donated for use by the town of Point Pleasant.  

After getting some bags, and instructions, we donned our gloves, broke up into small groups and began hauling the debris. Within the first hour, we removed 3 old tires, one of which Eric found a blueclaw crab had made a home in.  We also hauled out some rather large pieces of lumber, countless plastic bottles and aluminum cans, a surprising number of tennis balls, stuffed animals and some larger plastic containers.
After combing the shoreline of the island we moved our efforts towards the inner wetland portion of the island where we awoke swarms of gnats while dodging poison ivy and large patches of thick brier.
After a few hours of cleanup, we concluded our efforts by leaving the debris we found on the shoreline for the boat to pick up. Unfortunately the few hours we were there only allowed us to clean the western portion of the island however as we paddled away, the shoreline was visibly the cleanest I have seen it in many years.

After the cleanup, Tom reported the group effort resulted in 40 contractor bags full of debris, at least 5 boat loads of wood  and 6 tires.

 “Everybody worked very hard and put a total effort in. Tom commented.

At the very end of the cleanup he reported one of the volunteers found an old champagne bottle with a message in it. Inside the bottle was a plastic bag with a note which read  “If you find this note you will be blessed with much luck and happiness.  Just remember to let us know you found it and be kind to return the luck to us.   Merry Christmas 2000”.  Unfortunately there was no return address or number. 

The volunteer group also observed some thriving wildlife and was careful not to disturb it.  Van Nostrand reports that a Godwit nest was observed in which there were 8 eggs that had hatched. 

“It’s great to see shorebirds having successful nestings on the island” stated Van Nostrand.

An  Oystercatcher was also observed and  it appears he  may be staying on the island and waiting for a mate. The group also reported that the osprey’s young have hatched but no one got close enough to see how many offspring there were.
We all agreed that a clean-up of the other side of the island will be another full day effort. Hopefully, another clean-up will be scheduled soon, and more JSSKA and SBB members can get involved.


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