Barnegat Bay is a large shallow water estuary situated between Island Beach State Park and the mainland. At its southern end, the open waters encompass the Sedge Islands, a complex of salt marsh islands. Submerged aquatic vegetation beds composed of several species of seagrass dominate extensive areas of the bay. These nutrient-rich beds create food and cover for invertebrate species which are eaten by fish, waterfowl and larger invertebrates.

Ornithological Summary

Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: Peregrine Falcon (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: Black Skimmer (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: Osprey (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-special Concern: Common Tern (B)

Conservation Concern - Conservation Priority: American Black Duck (B)

Significant Congregations of Waterfowl (W)

Significant Congregations of Wading Birds (B)

Significant Congregations-Exceptional Single Species Concentration: Osprey (B)

Conservation Issues

Degradation of the Barnegat Bay?s estuarine habitats and water quality is directly related to overdevelopment along the shoreline and in the watershed. The resulting habitat loss and non-point sources of pollution, such as runoff from septic systems, lawns and gardens, impairs the natural ability of the wetlands to purify and absorb water filtering into the bay. Combined with recreational boating, these activities severely impact the integrity of the seagrass beds that provide valuable benthic habitat for the prey of many bird species. Disturbance of waterbird colonies from human activities, especially recreational boating, result in a decline in reproductive activity and suitability of habitat. Colonies of Least Terns and Black Skimmers are particularly susceptible to human disturbance as well as predation by gulls, foxes, raccoons, opossum, cats, and rodents. The establishment of the invasive common reed (Phragmites australis) also compromised habitat structure. A combination of outreach, education, signage, fencing and law enforcement has reduced disturbance of nesting waterbird colonies; however, current efforts should be expanded. Maintenance of natural coastal processes on the barrier islands such as inlet formation, overwash, dune building and erosion cycles are also essential. The coastal forests adjacent to the mainland marshes of Barnegat Bay provide important buffers for the bay and should be protected through acquisitions, conservation easements, regulations and appropriate management.


Owned by: NJ Division of Parks and Forestry
Island Beach State Park
P.O. Box 37
Seaside Park, NJ
08752 Phone: (732) 793-0506


Primarily shallow open water with tidal wetlands

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