Marine Conservation is a crucial part of making the Jersey Shore a premier destination for locals and tourists alike. But who cares about the land and the animals that live in the ocean near the beaches we frequent? In the New Jersey area, the American Littoral Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to this.
The American Littoral Society (littoral means intertidal zone or region along the coast) promotes the study of marine life. They also work to conserve marine habitats and protect the coast from harm, while enabling others to do the same. “This mission is built on three pillars: education, conservation and advocacy,” says Lindsay McNamara, director of development, membership and outreach. The NPO has existed since 1961.
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Since the late 1990s, the American Littoral Society has completed more than 50 restoration projects. Additionally, they have restored or enhanced over 300 acres of important shoreline and coastal habitats. They do this by building oyster reefs and living shorelines, as well as other nature-based solutions. In fact, they have one of the largest fish tagging programs, with tags all over the northeast coast. All they do is protect the coastline from climate change.
When it comes to policy advocacy, the American Littoral Society has been a longtime leader and participant. They continue to develop and introduce policy and legal analysis to guide conversations towards strong environmental protection. This includes federal legislative recommendations regarding wildlife management, habitat restoration, climate change adaptation, water quality management, etc. Click here to learn more about their advocacy work.
Educational resources for the general public
The American Littoral Society offers educational programs for schools, scouts and others. For example, Beach Grasses in Classes teaches students about the importance of dunes in protecting communities. During this exercise, students return home with a dune grass patch to tend to. A few months later, they bring back this cork and all the others that have grown. Then they plant them to help stabilize the dunes.
Similarly, their Sunset Seine program allows participants to drag a seine (net) through the seaweed. The group then examines marine vegetation and wildlife, such as puffer fish and horseshoe crab. Finally, the seaweed is put back into the water. “We don’t just want to give you a brochure,” Lindsay says. “We want your bare feet in the sea foam or in the sand immersed in the coast.”
About the American Littoral Society
The American Littoral Society focuses on marine conservation in the mid-Atlantic region from Cape May to Montauk, New York. They have NJ offices in Millville and Sandy Hook. The organization has over 2,000 members, including anglers, bird watchers, boaters, beach lovers and surfers. “We’re looking to connect people to the coast and get them out into nature,” says Lindsay. “It’s good for everyone’s mental health to go for walks and explore nature.”
To learn more: Click here to visit their website | Follow them on Instagram.
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Top and bottom photo: © American Littoral Society
Middle photo: Dave Hawkins, American Littoral Society