Life’s looking pretty good for the creatures that live on the bottom of the beautiful, briny Jersey Shore sea.
Researchers at Rutgers University have created a “biotic index” to measure the environmental health of ocean environments, specifically looking at the number of benthic invertebrates (clams, oysters, crabs, worms, etc.) living in those environments.
They theorize that this biotic index could be an alternative to measuring the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water (the theory being that if there’s not enough oxygen in the water, these types of non-swimming creatures can’t survive) as the only factor used to determine whether or not that environment is healthy for sustaining marine life.
The team of three researchers took samples of 153 different sites from Sandy Hook to Cape May, from the beach to three miles offshore, during August and September of 2007, 2009 and 2010. They were looking for the kinds of organisms that were living in those samples, and how many.
Their conclusion? The Jersey Shore waters were cleaner than expected. The dissolved oxygen reports from 2002 and 2007 had concluded that our marine environments were in bad shape. But when looking at the actual creatures living at the bottom of the ocean, only six of of the 153 samples showed any environmental issues.
The Jersey Shore is still dealing with the fallout of a Pennsylvania dentist who dumped his medical waste into our waters. It’s an uphill climb to convince outsiders — especially those who think of MTV stars as being from the Jersey Shore when they’re not — about the quality of Jersey beaches. Now at least we have one more nugget of information to use in that argument.