Location and Facilities
The Mullica River-Great Bay estuary is an exceptionally
productive estuarine system for shellfish and finfish and
is the site of early estuarine studies (late 1890s) (Woodward
and Waller 1932). The estuary is comprised of 87 square km
of salt marsh and 56 square km of shallow (average 2 m) estuarine
waters. Unlike most estuaries in the northeastern U.S., the
surrounding area, including most of the Pine Barrens watershed,
is protected from large-scale human disturbance. The Kirkwood-Cohansey
aquifer, which is the subject of a major program of study
through the U.S. Geological Survey, feeds the estuarine system.
Almost the entire upstream portion of the Mullica River drainage
basin is part of the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
(also named as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1983). The downstream
portions of the Mullica River are further buffered by federal
(Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge) and state (Great
Bay Wildlife Management Area) wildlife refuges. The system
has only a few populated areas. As a result, the Great Bay-Mullica
River estuary is probably the cleanest estuary in the Boston-New
York-Philadelphia-Washington, D.C. megalopolis and one of
the cleanest on the east coast. In recognition of its unique
status this estuarine system, including a portion of the adjacent
continental shelf, has been designated as the Jacques Cousteau
National Estuarine Research Reserve System (Psuty et al. 1993).
Also, the year-round access to high-quality, high-salinity
water (22-30 ppt), makes the sea water laboratory an ideal
location for the spawning, culture and study of marine and
estuarine fishes and invertebrates.
The location of the Rutgers University Marine Field Station
(RUMFS) near Little Egg Inlet provides immediate access to
the adjacent Atlantic Ocean and a Long-Term Ecosystem Observatory
(von Alt and Grassle 1992, von Alt et al. 1997) at 15 m depth
(LEO-15) As a result this site is the focus of multi-disciplinary
studies that integrate physical, chemical, geological and
biological approaches to the study of seasonal (e.g. upwellings
and hypoxia), low-frequency (e.g. major storms), and aperiodic
RUMFS complex was built in 1937 as a life boat station operated
by the U.S. Coast Guard. Rutgers University established the
Marine Field Station at this location in 1972. Renovated in
1995, the main facility is equipped with dry analytical laboratories,
flow-through sea water laboratories with the capability to
heat and cool the water, marine railway, dive locker, and
office space. The labs are equipped with dissecting microscopes,
and a high-power compound microscope attached to an Optimas
image analysis system. In addition, there is a dormitory about
6.5 miles from the RUMFS complex. The dormitory can house
up to 25 students, faculty, and visiting scientists year-round.
number of people involved in research at RUMFS varies seasonally
with 40-50 people during the summer and 25-35 people in winter
with frequent, daily visitations from other Rutgers campuses
and other institutions. RUMFS has nine small vessels (17-24
ft) for work in the estuary. Larger vessels include the R.V.
Caleta (30'), R.V. Joy Sea Devil
(28') and the R.V. Arabella
(48') for work on the adjacent continental shelf.
The Long-term Ecosystem Observatory at 15 m (LEO-15) is designed
to collect long-term oceanographic data with high temporal
resolution, that can be used to answer questions across several
disciplines. Data from this site can currently be viewed over
the World Wide Web (Real-Time
Data). The long-term data is collected from three basic
sources: 1) in situ instruments (current profilers and meters,
thermistor strings, plankton samplers, optical back scatter
sensors, etc.) that are deployed at the LEO site and connected
to a fiber optic data/power link that transfer data, in real
time, back to RUMFS, IMCS, and worldwide through the internet;
2) remote sensing data (AVHRR) is being collected via a satellite
dish mounted on Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and
Coastal Science Building; 3) meteorological data (wind speed
and direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity)
is collected from RUMFS 70 m meteorological tower.
Woodward, C. R. and I.N. Waller. 1932. New Jersey's Agricultural
Experiment Station. 1880- 1930. pub. The New Jersey Agricultural
Experiment Station, New Brunswick, NJ.
Psuty, N.P., M. P. De Luca, R. Lathrop, K.W. Able, S. Whitney
and J.F. Grassle. 1993. The Mullica River - Great Bay National
Estuarine Research Reserve: A unique opportunity for research,
preservation and management. pp. 1557-1568 In: Coastal Zone
1993, Vol. 2. Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium on Coastal
and Ocean Management. O.T. Magoon, W.S. Wilson, H. Converse
and L.T Tobin (eds.), American Society of Civil Engineers,
von Alt, C.J. and J.F. Grassle. 1992. LEO-15: an unmanned
long term environmental observatory. OCEANS 92 Newport, R.I.
Von Alt, C., De Luca, M.P., Glenn, S.M., Grassle, J.F., Haidvogel,
D.B., (1997). LEO-15: Monitoring & Managing Coastal Resources.
Sea Technology, v. 38, n. 8, pp. 10-16.