2021 winner of Non-fiction popular category: New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance
The Mullica Valley estuary and its watershed, formed over the last 10,000 years, are among the cleanest estuaries along the east coast of the United States. This 365,000-acre ecosystem benefits from a combination of protected watershed, low human population density, and general lack of extensive development. In Beneath the Surface, marine scientist Ken Able helps the reader penetrate the surface and gain insights into the kinds of habitats, animals, and plants that live there. Readers will gain a better understanding of the importance of these shallow waters; how the amount of salt in the water determines where animals and plants are found in estuaries; the day-night, seasonal, and annual variation in their occurrence; and how change is occurring as the result of climate variation. Throughout the book are insightful sidebars telling intimate stories of where various animals came from and where they are going as they travel through the estuary on their way to and from other portions of the east coast. Beneath the Surface emphasizes the kinds and importance of the animals and plants that live beneath the surface of this unique ecosystem.
New Jersey has roughly 130 miles of coastline, including a wide array of habitats from marshes to ocean beaches, each hosting a unique ecosystem. Yet these coastal landscapes are quite dynamic, changing rapidly as a result of commercial development, environmental protection movements, and of course climate change. Now more than ever, it is vital to document these landscapes before they disappear.
Based on numerous aerial images from helicopter and drone flights between 2015 and 2021, this book provides extensive photographs and maps of the New Jersey coast, from the Pine Barrens to the ocean beaches. The text associated with each exceptional image describes it in detail, including its location, ecological setting, and relative position within the larger landscape. Author Kenneth Able, director of the Rutgers University Marine Field Station for over 30 years, has thoroughly ground-truthed each image by observations through kayaks, boats, and wading through marshes. Calling upon his decades of expertise, Able paints a compelling portrait of coastal New Jersey’s stunning natural features, resources, history, and possible futures in an era of rising sea levels.