Brownie Beach and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
September 28, 2008
On September 28, 2008, I went to Brownie Beach and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. At Brownie Beach, we looked for sharp teeth along with many other mammal bones or teeth. At Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary, we learned about the surrounding area and conservation work that has been done there.
Left: Brownie Beach, Right: Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary
It was a gloomy day that Sunday morning. It was raining and wet outside. The sky was dark and I had a hard time getting out of bed. However, I made my way down to meet the other ELT students at nine and we made our way outside to the vans. At around ten, we reached our first destination, Brownie Beach. Dr. Merck and Dr. Holtz led us to the beach area and started explaining our objective for that day: digging up and identify different fossils. They then started explaining the area and when they finished talking, we were finally free to explore. Before we get into what I did, I should explain the area for you guys. First of all, about 12 million years ago, this area was below sea level. As the ocean recede, it leaves behind records of changes through the sedimentary layers. The sediment builds up gradually and slowly, taking millions of years to create the layers. These layers that we see in the cliff proves this area was originally below sea level. This environment 12 millions years ago was ideal for sharks and many other animals that live underwater. There were mammals such as crocodiles, sharps, dolphins, and whales. However, today it has become just a beach with a cliff.
When I was released, I began by digging into the sand. I though that if I dig it would be easier to locate the biggest teeth and bones. However, it was a bad idea. About thirty minutes later, I was about still the only one who had not found anything. I decided to just move to another spot and search around the surface. I made my way along the side of the coast and found myself on the other side of the cliff. On the other side, I was finally able to find a few sharp teeth. Dr. Merck explained that if the tooth is black, then it is an old ancient tooth but if it's white then it was a very recent tooth. My findings consisted of fossilized teeth of a Galeocerdo (extinct tiger shark) and an Isurus oxyrinchus (extinct mako shark).
After Brownie Beach, we made our way to the Jug Bay Wetland area. We slip up into two groups and followed a trail through the area. On the trail, we observed birds, fish, plants, and beaver. Jug Bay is filled with many different environments, ecosystems, and organism. The different environments and ecosystems include a marsh, swamp, forest, meadow, and bay. The forest area is home to many organisms, ranging from plant and fungi species to many animal species. There are many different non-poisonous snake reptiles, many species of birds, frogs, and beavers. The wetlands part of the sanctuary, mainly marsh and swamp, host species of insects as well as aquatic plants and fish. Along the trail were man made red post. These signified certain research and conservation work done around the site. For one, there was an invisible net that catches birds. This can be used to calculate the population of birds in the area and keep data if the population changes too much.
About ninety percent through the trail, it started to rain heavily and I found myself sprinting back to the Wildlife Refuge center. Here our group waited until the rain stop. While waiting, I learned a great deal about the effects of human on this area. Humans have made both a positive and negative huge impact on Jug Bay. The past negatives effect of human includes building railroad track and farming. In the 1600's, Europeans used this area for farming, which turned the crystal clear river into a muddy river. Then in the 1900's, a railroad was constructed that ran straight through this area. Both these impacted the area greatly, disrupting the natural environment and reducing the variation of organisms. Now however, humans are trying to have a positive effect through conservation work and research studies. There is a program called Adopt-A-Plot which volunteers help remove invasive plants. There are other programs suchs as marsh clean-up and managing water quality. In the shelter, there were many research projects on display. There were exhibits of dug up tools, exhibits of birds and ducks, exhibits of ecosystems, sediments, nutrients, and many others. One really cool exhibit was about sediment. It introduced sediments by defining it, and showed how different environments kept sediment from reaching waterways. This could include manmade obstacles such as fencings during construction work or natural obstacles such as the forest. The display had a wheel that showed the speed of four different sediments: gravel, sand, silt, and clay. A person would spin the wheel and watch as each of the sediments “race” down the columns seeing which one was fastest. There was also a game where you fit the sediments pieces into their correct location because it was "loss." I believe that this exhibit was the best because it was engaging with its display.
Even though it was a rainy day and I was soak by the end of the trip. It was an engaging and interesting experience where I got to enjoy a day at the beach digging up fossils as well as going on a nature walk. I learned much about Brownie Beach and the Jug Bay Wetlands. I dug up fossils which I never imagined myself doing unless I was a paleontologists. I was a little disappointed that I only found a couple of sharp teeth, everyone found like five times more stuff than me but I guess it's fine. At Jug Bay Wetland, I went on a trail, which I have not done in years looking at birds, frogs, snakes, and insects. At the end in the Refuge center, I learned about the different animals, environments, and ecosystems located within this area. I was introduced to a possible place where I could do my future research for my practicum. From this trip, I learned more about the earth and area of Brownie Beach and Jug Bay Wetland, how time affected this area, and how life existed and differed at these areas. Through out the centuries, the sediments show how different environments and organisms existed and disappeared. It showed how the environment changed from a below sea level ecosystem to an above sea level ecosystem, resulting in different environments and organism makeup. This trip has sparked some of my interest towards geology and nature study.
Last modified: October 26, 2008