It’s mid-May as I muse. It’s been a busy few weeks for me – 4th annual native plant sale, World Series of Birding, Return the Favor Horseshoe Crab rescue walks, the Conservation Wine Series release with Jessie Creek Winery, and the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival. All of these opportunities reconnect me to the natural world and to all of you. From our migratory friends that are returning from their wintering grounds to the freshness of the marsh as it turns vibrant shades of green, there is wonder in all of it. Whether you too are returning from your wintering grounds or sprucing up to be back in your spring glory, it’s a time of connections that I welcome every year.
The grounds of the Institute are electrified with the energy of hundreds of school children discovering the wonders of the marsh, intermingled with dozens of bird fanatics with binoculars scanning the marsh for our transient friends. The Purple Martins are back in large numbers and are actively setting up shop and watching over all we do. Their constant chatters is a welcoming sound. Marshal and Lily, our osprey pair, are incubating 3 eggs and are always a joy to see.
We are all gearing up. In a few days, the interns arrive and begin their adventure of a summer in the marsh – a life-changing experience for so many. The beach stewards will be out on Stone Harbor Point and Cape May National Wildlife Refuge protecting beach nesting birds and educating beach-goers about their plight and how we can all share the resource. The research team is already out monitoring bird usage of the nesting habitat that was recently refurbished. Horseshoe crab census work keeps them out late into the night. Terrapin nesting season is just around the corner and there is so much to do to prepare.
The education team is in full swing. There are new exhibits in the aquarium and the horseshoe crab hatchery is up and running. SEAS trips are underway providing students an opportunity to be out on a boat doing science and also providing new animals to the aquarium. Otto the Octopus continues to be full of character and personality and is excited by the increase in visitors.
There is so much life and energy at the Institute. We continue our work to ensure these marshes are here for generations to come, that they are teeming with life, and all of you have ample opportunity to experience the wonders of these remarkable ecosystems. I hope to see you here reconnecting as well. When you come by, please take a moment to ask to see me – I would enjoy catching up.