Why this web site about Island Beach ? There are a few reasons…...
I spent all of my childhood summers in Ortley Beach and grew up having many, many opportunities to “go down the shore.” While Ortley Beach is just a few miles north of Island Beach State Park I only visited the park a few times when I was a child. There was little need to drive anywhere once we arrived in Ortley, except maybe to do some crabbing in the bay or to go food shopping at the A&P. The beach was just at the end of the block and anything else my brothers and I wanted was within easy reach: Barnacle Bills Arcade was two blocks away (I saved my quarters all winter!), we could see the Wednesday night Seaside Heights fireworks from our sun deck, and the ice cream truck rode down the street every night.
I would never have guessed back then that my childhood fascination with nature would one day become my vocation. Today I am an ecologist and a myrmecologist (an ant biologist). My playing, poking, and prodding of the many creatures I discovered around my childhood haunts at the shore did play some part in my becoming a biologist, I am sure, but I had not really thought much about nature at the beach for a long stretch of time during my adult life. I lived in places that were far removed from the Jersey shore: Georgia, Montana, and Florida. Today I also spend more time in the northeastern United States and for the past few years I have returned to Ortley Beach about once a year. The seemingly distant Island Beach of my childhood – it is all the way beyond Seaside Heights! – now seems much closer to the family beach house. The preserved natural environments found in the park are also much more enticing to me.
Since my professional life has involved studying terrestrial ecology, I have spent little time formally studying marine or beach habitats. Yet I have been amazed with the things I remembered from my childhood as I have once again poked and prodded at the creatures I find in and around the sea. It has caused me to become newly curious about the ocean, the seashore, and the plants and animals that live in these habitats. As a way to learn more I decided to build this web site.
My own ecological predilections create questions in my mind about natural environments and the organisms I find. Why is this plant species here and not there, what is this strange creature washed up on the beach, what was its life like in the ocean, etc. Some of these questions will be answered on the pages you find on this site.
So in answer to the question as to why this sites exists, I hope to do two things on these pages. One is for me to learn more about the natural environments at Island Beach. Part of my learning process will include creating more web pages. Second is to help others enjoy their own adventures at the Jersey shore by letting you know what you can expect to find at Island Beach State Park. This not only includes providing information about nature but also such things as what you can do in Island Beach State Park and the times the park is open.
If you would like support this site you can send donations to me, via paypal, clicking on the Donate button. Financial donations can be used to help pay for the hosting costs involved in serving these webpages. Donations also show me that this site has real value to some of my visitors. This vote of support is gratifying and encourages me to continue adding more information to the website.
If you would like to send me any comments about the site - you want to suggest other information I can include, you are wondering about some aspect of the natural environments at Island Beach State Park that I have not covered, or for any other reason - you can send an email to the address given below. I can't promise that I will reply to every message I receive but I will read, and take into consideration, any comments that are sent to me. I really like to hear from others in regards to the website or the park so if you're not sure if you should write, please do. I would love to hear from you!