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July 1, 2013
Contact: Shelley Dawicki


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One of the Sandy Hook Lab's research vessels, the R/V Resolute, decked out for the day. Photo Credit: NEFSC/NOAA

Sandy Hook Lab Open House June 9 Attracts Large Crowd

More than 1,500 visitors enjoyed exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities at the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory’s annual Open House June 9, held in conjunction with Ocean Fun Days at Sandy Hook, NJ.

The event provides a variety of family-oriented activities related to the coastal environment and the science of the shoreline. The 2013 celebration marked the 10th anniversary of Ocean Fun Days, sponsored by New Jersey Natural Gas in partnership with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, NOAA, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, and the Asbury Park Press.  The NEFSC Sandy Hook Laboratory has participated every year.

Amanda Plantamura served as chair of the planning committee, and with the help of staff members Claire Steimle, Donna Johnson, Catherine Noonan, Tom Finneran, and Angela Cook helped make the event a success.  More than 30 staff members participated in the Open House, along with summer interns, volunteers from the nearby Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), and a student from Keansburg High School.

Entrance fees to Sandy Hook and the beach area are required after Memorial Day, which may have affected the number of visitors this year, Plantamura said.   “Despite the change in date, we had lots of visitors, including many families with young children. It was a great success!” The event is usually held in May, before entrance fees are required, but it was delayed this year owing to the ongoing clean-up after Superstorm Sandy.

Visitors could participate in a fly-through of Hudson Canyon in an interactive virtual tour, learn about deepwater habitats and biodiversity, and visualize the impacts of ocean acidification with hands-on demonstrations of the effect that rising carbon dioxide has on seawater pH.  They could also learn about local live fish and crabs in the touch tanks, and see live black sea bass adults ready for spawning in the facility’s 32,000-gallon research aquarium.

Outdoor exhibits included the Northeast Shark Tagging Program, tours of research vessels Resolute and Harvey, survival suit demonstrations, life raft tours, and the fishing game “Hook a Book” that provided copies of the book “A Good Catch.”  Posters provided information and images on topics ranging from environmental effects and climate change on fisheries, to contaminant risks to young fish.  Demonstrations and exhibits also featured live fish (adults and larvae), and NOAA’s restoration efforts with live eels climbing a fish ladder.

Among the new additions this year was an exhibit on oysters and posters on the science of the October 2012 Superstorm Sandy. “Oysters: Nature’s Water Filters” included a video, live oysters and hands-on activities for kids, while “The Science of Sandy” exhibit featured posters showing before and after images of the local beaches and bay front.

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The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts ecosystem-based science supporting stewardship of living marine resources under changing climatic conditions. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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