December 2018 — Winter Marsh


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This month’s SeaTalk shares information about the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge marsh restoration project that has been underway since 2013. Prime Hook is a 10,144-acre refuge established in 1963 and was named a RAMSAR Wetland of International Significance in 1999.

Using funding from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Act, Prime Hook restored about 4,000 acres of former freshwater impoundments to tidal marsh and barrier beach, which will improve the refuge’s resilience to sea level rise and coastal storms while also improving habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. Five years into the project, scientists are documenting encouraging signs of success, such as nesting by the endangered piping plover.

Delaware Sea Grant is funding two oceanographers with the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment to investigate how the Prime Hook restoration affects the physical dynamics of the refuge. Understanding those impacts will help scientists plan for ways to make the marsh and refuge more resilient in the future.

Notable Dates

Dec. 5 – World Soil Day – Declared by the United Nations in 2013, World Soil Day is intended to raise awareness of the importance of addressing soil pollution. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN notes that clean and healthy soil is vital to 12 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including protecting life underwater by conserving marine resources by reducing soil pollutants transported in runoff.

Dec. 21 – Winter Solstice – The shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice marks the first day of Winter. From this day until mid-June, the Northern Hemisphere will gradually gain daylight each day as the orientation of the tilt of the planet in relation to the sun changes due to the position of the Earth in its orbit.

Dec. 29 – Christmas Bird Count – Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count actually runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, but this is the day for Rehoboth’s count. Check Audubon’s site to find a count near you and contact information for the organizer. There are counts from Wilmington to Seaford, and several along the Bayshore and ocean beaches.

Mark Jolly-Van Bodegraven