Past Projects and Fellows

The DNREC Coastal Management Program and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve are dynamic, evolving programs whose focus remains on the balance between the use and protection of Delaware’s coastal resources. This is an archive of information about some past projects.

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Marine Debris Research


Microplastics are plastic pieces smaller than five millimeters, which include fragments of plastic trash, tiny synthetic fibers, and microbeads. They have become an emerging concern in the environment because of the length of time that it takes plastic particles to break down and the risks they pose to marine organisms.

Delaware Coastal Programs tested and optimized a standard method to detect and measure microplastics in beach sands, surface waters, and marine sediments. This baseline information helps us understand the types and quantities of microplastics present in the coastal environment and demonstrated the feasibility of measuring microplastics in coastal systems.

researchers working in a marsh

Derelict Crab Pot Removal

The blue crab fishery is the largest commercial fishing industry in Delaware. However, over the course of decades, there is a potential for thousands of derelict crab pots to accumulate in Delaware waters. These derelict pots, commonly referred-to as “ghost pots,” can cause habitat damage and continue to trap and kill organisms like crabs, turtles, and fish long after they’ve stopped being tended to.

In 2016, Delaware Coastal Programs received a NOAA Marine Debris Prevention Grant to identify derelict crab pots in Delaware Bay, test different removal methods, and conduct various outreach activities to bring awareness to this issue.

Delaware Coastal Programs also worked with Delaware Sea Grant and the University of Delaware to identify and removal derelict crab pots in a portion of the Delaware Inland Bays.

The University of Delaware and Delaware Sea Grant presently have a NOAA Marine Debris Removal Grant to expand efforts in the Delaware Inland Bays.

Delaware Bay Wave Buoys

Two wave buoys were situated in middle and lower Delaware Bay from 2007 to 2008. They recorded hourly data on wave direction, wave height and wave period, along with water surface temperature. This data is available from the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC).

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Delaware Coastal Programs staff provided expertise in the monitoring of water quality parameters, total suspended solids, and water currents of during the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge restoration project.

Multiple water quality sondes, Isco water samplers, and acoustic Doppler Current Profilers were operated and maintained by Coastal Programs staff to provide critical information for understanding and modeling this massive restoration project.

Graduate Research Fellows at the Delaware Reserve

Graduate Research Fellows were graduate students who received funds from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Graduate Research Fellowship program. From 1997 to 2013, fifteen Fellows came to the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve to gain hands-on experience by participating in research and monitoring programs.

The Graduate Research Fellowship was replaced by the Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship, which is a competitive opportunity open every other year to interested graduate students.

Term Name Affiliation Research Topic
2011 – 2013 Ramona Stammermann Drexel University The effect of sediment availability and climate change on marsh development in the Delaware Estuary.
2011 – 2013 Brandon Boyd University of Delaware Quantifying sediment accretion in impounded marshes of the Delaware Estuary using radionuclide chronologies.
2010 – 2011 Joshua Moody Rutgers University The relationship between ribbed mussel (Guekensia demissa) density and salt marsh shoreline erosion.
 2008 – 2011 Stephanie Stotts University of Delaware Riparian Restoration of the Blackbird Creek Reserve, New Castle, Delaware.
2008 – 2010 Susanne Moskalski University of Delaware Hydrologic and Oceanic Influences on Inter-annual Sea Level and Turbidity in the St Jones River Estuary, Delaware.
2005 – 2008  Jill Brown University of Delaware Life and death of the sandbuilder worm: recruitment, tube growth, and winter mortality as determinants of reef formation by Sabellaria vulgaris in Delaware Bay.
2005 – 2008 Brian Boutin University of Delaware Evaluation of essential fish habitat for juvenile weakfish: comparison of habitat-specific density, growth, feeding and production in selected Delaware marsh creeks and adjacent Delaware Bay.
2003 – 2005 Anne Mundel University of Delaware Water quality monitoring in the upper Blackbird Creek component of the Delaware Reserve.
2003 – 2005 Michael League University of Delaware A comparative study of rhizome growth dynamics of native and non-native stands of Phragmites australis in Delaware, with emphasis on the population dynamics in the Delaware Reserve.
2001 – 2003 Bartholomew Wilson University of Delaware Late holocene evolution of the St Jones Estuary in the Delaware NERR. Implications for sustaining resources in response to antropogenic impacts.
2000 – 2003 Alexander Parker University of Delaware Stable isotope tagging to assess the importance of the microbial loop in the Delaware Estuary.
1999 – 2001 Carrie Kopin University of Delaware Settlement of non-indigenous crabs in Middle Atlantic estuaries.
1998 – 2000 Katherine Bunting-Howarth University of Delaware Pfisteria piscicida and risk perception in Delaware’s estuarine systems: Understanding user group reactions and developing policy strategies.
1997 – 1999 Vinton Valentine University of Delaware Accelerated sea level rise: its impact on DNERR management.
1997 – 1999 Darby Forbes University of Delaware Managing introductions of marine exotic species to the Lower St Jones River and Delaware Bay region.

Coastal Management Fellows in Delaware

The Coastal Management Fellowship was established in 1996 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide on-the-job education and training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students and to provide project assistance to state coastal zone management programs. From 1998 to 2016, six Fellows came to the Delaware Coastal Management Program to work on priority coastal resource issues.

Term Name Project
2022 – 2024 Jordana Cutajar Building Resilience through Relationships: Collaborating with Local Organizations to Support Frontline Communities
2020 – 2022 Nicole Marks A Roadmap to Protection: Understanding the Costs of Adaptation
2018 – 2020 Sierra Davis Development of a Methodology to Evaluate and Prioritize Dredging Projects in Delaware’s Inland Bays
2014 – 2016 Amanda Santoni Quantifying the Value of Delaware’s Tidal Wetland Ecosystem to Facilitate Protection and Acquisition
2012 – 2014 Kate Fleming Marine Spatial Planning for Delaware’s Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay
2008 – 2010 Gabrielle Lyons Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning
2003 – 2005 Ed Cervone Development of a Brownfields Restoration and Re-Use Site Description Compendium for Coastal Communities
2001 – 2003 Bonnie Willis Tracking and Monitoring System for Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program
1998 – 2000 Jennifer Groszkowski The Delaware Statewide Dredging Policy Framework

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