Connecticut Sea Grant

Art Exhibit at Avery Point Opening Soon

Among the Tides art exhibit flyer“Among the Tides,” a new exhibit featuring the work of photographer Elizabeth Ellenwood, will be on display at the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Campus from Jan. 23 through March 15, with an opening reception Jan. 24.

The reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the gallery, located on the second floor of the Branford House at the Avery Point campus.

Ellenwood, recipient of a 2019 Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support award, uses historic and modern techniques to transform plastic beach trash and microplastics into images that call attention to global ocean pollution. She uses the cyanotype process developed in the mid-1800s to create photographic prints without using a camera of discarded plastic items such as balloons, take-out cups, sandwich bags and lighters. The images, on chemically treated blue paper exposed to the sun, are then transferred in a second step using the wet plate collodion process onto colored glass.

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CT Sea Grant: Re-Thinking Relationships with the Places We Love

Wrack Lines cover

The Fall-Winter 2019-20 issue of Wrack Lines, a publication of Connecticut Sea Grant is now posted at:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=5770. In this issue we’re re-thinking relationships with the places we love.

Survey could help efforts to get more seafood eaten in CT

people eating seafood outside at picnic tables
Photo: Judy Benson

If you’re an average Connecticut resident, you probably didn’t eat seafood more than once in the last week.

But you might, if you knew more about how to prepare different types of fish, shellfish and seaweed, and where to buy local seafood. You’d also be inclined to have seafood more often if you knew more about its safety.

Those are some of the key findings of the Connecticut Seafood Survey, a 2½-year project to better understand current eating habits and how best to make of all types of seafood – but especially the shellfish, seaweed and fish from local waters – a more frequent part of state residents’ diets. Half the residents surveyed said they eat seafood just once a week – which is out of sync with the Food & Drug Administration’s recommendations. The FDA says adults should eat two or more servings per week to get all the nutritional benefits their bodies need.

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Article and photo by Judy Benson

Two Sea Grant Programs Support Students’ Unique Summer Job

students standing in front of mesh on the shoreline where they worked on living shoreline projects in Stratford for a summer internship
Sam Koeck, left, worked at the site with Sacred Heart University seniors Jeffrey Young, center, and Adrian Nelson, to lay mesh made of potato starch to secure soil at the site.

For many college students, the summer after freshman year means heading home for jobs waiting tables, working at youth recreation programs or scooping ice cream at the beach snack bar.

But after completing his first year at the University of Delaware, Sam Koeck came home to Connecticut to the kind of paid internship usually afforded only to students further along in college, when they’ve already taken several upper-level courses in their major.  A resident of Fairfield, Koeck is getting the chance to develop skills and real-world experience uniquely relevant to his double major in materials engineering and marine science at nearby Stratford Point, a Long Island Sound site serving as a laboratory for shoreline restoration. At the same time, he is enabling two Sea Grant programs –Delaware and Connecticut – to partner on a project that could benefit both states.

“Sam is just starting his academic career, so I hope this gives him the exposure he needs to help him see a path forward,” said Chris Hauser, associate director of Delaware Sea Grant. “We’re really excited about the skills that Sam will gain and how he can use them.”

Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant, said the chance to work with another Sea Grant to jointly support Koeck – each program is providing half of his $5,000 summer salary – was a great opportunity.

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Article and photo by Judy Benson

35 Volunteers Help Kickoff Campaign with Beach Cleanup

Volunteers from the beach cleanup day in New HavenNew Haven – One hundred pounds of litter – everything from deflated Mylar balloons and monofilament fishing line to plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, straws, cigarette butts and lots of bottle caps — filled the buckets and reusable bags of 35 volunteers Thursday at Lighthouse Point Park as they helped launch a campaign to keep plastic trash out of Long Island Sound.

“My husband and I grew up down here, so we just wanted to come and help out,” said Lisa Ratti, who came with her husband Salvatore and their daughters Kylie, 13, Courtney, 11, and Rosalie, 4, from their home in Newington to work with the other volunteers in picking up trash.

The two-hour cleanup on a bright, windy August day at the popular city beach and picnic area was the start of this year’s “Don’t Trash Long Island Sound – Break the Single-Use Plastic Habit” campaign sponsored by the Long Island Sound Study, Connecticut Sea Grant and Mystic Aquarium. Now in its third year, the campaign this year expanded with four groups joining in the kick-off event – The Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound; Audubon Connecticut; The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut chapter; and SoundWaters, which sponsored cleanups at the same time at two Stamford parks.

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Article by Judy Benson

‘New normal’ of flooded roads presents complex challenges

Story and photos by Judy Benson

climate adaptation workshopWith frequent downpours flooding many of the state’s coastal roads throughout the fall and into January – including the previous day – the workshop could hardly have had more relevance and timeliness.

“I spent yesterday dealing with countless calls to my office from people saying they couldn’t get to their houses because of flooding,” said Steve Johnson, acting assistant public works director, open space and natural resource agent for Milford. “This is getting to be the new normal. Yesterday I also watched a school bus drive through two feet of water to get the kids home.”

Johnson was one of the speakers at the Climate Adaptation Academyworkshop on Jan. 25 on road flooding. A capacity crowd of more than 80 municipal public works, planning and engineering officials from throughout coastal Connecticut came to the Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam to spend the day learning about legal, environmental and practical approaches and challenges to “a problem with no easy answers,” said Juliana Barrett, coastal habitat specialist at Connecticut Sea Grant, during opening remarks. Co-sponsored by Sea Grant, UConn CLEAR and UConn Extension, the workshop is the third in a series focusing on the local ramifications of climate change and how towns can learn to cope.

Caught between the encroaching waters and dry land are salt marshes and roadways through low-lying coastal communities. Finding ways so that both can continue to exist on the Connecticut shoreline will be one of the main tasks of coastal town officials for the coming decades, Kozak said.Setting the stage for the issue at hand was David Kozak, senior coastal planner in the Land and Water Resources Division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Ocean waters have been creeping onto land at accelerating rates over the past 50 years, and sea levels are projected to rise another 20 inches by 2050 and about four feet by 2100, he said. “Sunny day flooding,” when roads become submerged by high tides rather than heavy rains and storm surge, is becoming more common, he added.

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In pilaf, salmon, manicotti, kelp’s versatility impresses chefs

a chef tastes kelp
Juliet Wong, convention services manager at the Sheraton, samples one of the kelp dishes.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

After tasting rice pilaf with carrots, peppers and kelp, grilled shrimp wrapped in kelp leaves, baked salmon topped with leeks and kelp and manicotti stuffed with mushrooms and kelp, restaurant owner Chris Szewczyk is eager to incorporate the Connecticut-grown seaweed into his menu.

“It’s an exciting product,” said Szewczyk, owner of Taino Smokehouse in Middletown.

Standing nearby in the kitchen of the Sheraton Hartford South in Rocky Hill was Lydell Carter, sous-chef at the hotel restaurant. Between forkfuls of the various dishes, Carter said he, too, is a convert to the possibilities of cooking with kelp.

“I definitely see it’s very versatile,” he said. “I really liked it with the shrimp.  I like the flavor profile and the texture.”

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Originally posted on the Connecticut Sea Grant website.

A Marsh Migration Buffer Takes Shape

Dodge Paddock Beal Preserve is a small oasis in Stonington Borough and is owned by Avalonia Land Conservancy. With tidal wetlands, coastal grassland and a rocky intertidal area, the area has much to offer visitors. The preserve has been the focus of many efforts involving the land trust, CT Dept of Energy and Environmental Protection, Mystic Aquarium and Connecticut Sea Grant. Superstorm Sandy (2012) had significant impacts to the site with both physical (seawall damage) and ecological impacts. Work by Avalonia, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Mystic Aquarium have focused on restoration and management of the tidal wetland with extensive regrading, Phragmites australiscontrol work and planting of native marsh vegetation. Other significant site work includes grassland management to control invasive plants in upland areas.

Landward of the tidal wetland, numerous questions have arisen with the upland habitats. The Beal Family maintained several beautiful, large gardens as a condition of their land donation. Mrs. Beal recently passed away, so Avalonia needed to determine how to manage a large area of the property bordering the wetlands. Given the proximity of the formal gardens to the marsh, projections of sea level rise of approximately 20 inches by 2050, and observations indicating that the marsh is migrating landward in parts of the Preserve, the creation of a marsh migration buffer seems to be the most prudent approach. With a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Long Island Sound Futures Fund, we are moving forward with the creation of such a buffer.

Land Trust Steward, Beth Sullivan, led the clearing of the formal gardens by having local garden clubs, neighbors and friends come in and remove plants which included everything from fennel to canna lilies. More volunteers pulled roots and cleared as much as possible. Then we covered the gardens with black plastic, letting it “solarize” over the summer months. After much planning and determining what plants would work best, we planted the new buffer on Oct 19th. A hardy crew of volunteers rolled up the plastic, raked and leveled the gardens and then sowed seeds with a mix of native coastal grass species. We were also fortunate to obtain seeds for several native species that had been collected several years ago by the New England Wildflower Society as part of their Seeds of Successprogram. Seeds of native species that were collected locally include switch grass and little bluestem as well as herbaceous perennials such as tall goldenrod. Other donations included milkweed seeds and root balls of joe pye weed from local gardens.

people walking with plastic uncovering ground
Removal of the plastic sheeting that was used to solarize the area over the summer months. Photo by J. Benson Oct 19, 2018

spreading mulch over dirt and seed
Seeded area is covered with a thin layer of straw for the winter months. Photo by J. Benson Oct 19, 2018

 

So now we can wait out the winter months and hope for a fruitful spring. While marsh migration with sea level rise is very slow, we are hoping to develop a coastal grassland/meadow that will be an ecologically productive habitat.

By Juliana Barrett

Coastal Storm Preparedness Story Map for Connecticut

coastal house damaged from a storm in ConnecticutAs part of the Coastal Storm Awareness Program (CSAP) 10 social science research and related new technology projects were funded to improve public response to coastal storm hazard information. In one of these studies, Jennifer Marlon, of Yale University, and other collaborators in 2015 found that 70 percent of coastal Connecticut residents are either unsure or unaware if their home is in an evacuation zone as determined by flood maps developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Another 74 percent of coastal Connecticut residents have never seen an evacuation map for their community.

In order to provide information on evacuation zones, local evacuation routes and customized municipal preparedness, Extension faculty at Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research and a UConn student developed a Coastal Storm Story Map. A story map is a tool developed by the software company, Esri, that allows authoritative maps to be combined with text, images and videos to tell a story. This story map provides information on evacuation zones and local evacuation routes, as well as links to sign up for town emergency alerts. Piloted with four coastal towns, the project’s goal is to have information for all coastal and riverine communities throughout the state. Any town interested in providing evacuation route and shelter information for the story map, please contact Juliana Barrett at juliana.barrett@uconn.edu.

Seafood Prepping Tips

fresh seafood for sale in Connecticut
Photo: Judy Benson

Enjoy the healthful benefits of seafood, at least two meals a week.

1. Keep seafood cold* between store and home. Store immediately in refrigerator.

2. Use fresh fish within 1-2 days or wrap tightly and freeze immediately.

3. Thaw seafood overnight under refrigeration.

4. Keep raw seafood separate from cooked/ready-to-eat foods. Prevent raw/thawing seafood from dripping on other foods.

5. Refrigerate live (in shell) clams or oysters in shallow pan (no water). Cover with damp towel to maintain humidity. Use clams/mussels within 2-3 days and oysters within 7 days. Discard gaping shellfish that do not clamp shut when tapped.

6. Refrigerate shucked shellfish; use within 3 days.

7. Cook live lobsters or crabs the same day purchased.

8. Cook seafood to internal temperature of 145oF for 15 seconds (fish becomes opaque and flaky; shrimp/scallops turn firm and opaque).

*Connecticut Sea Grant has insulated bags for $3 each. Call 860-408-9128.

By Nancy Balcom