Charlie Orens, 25, and Albin Wicki, 22, dragged a large seining net into the waters of the Sandy Hook Bay Friday afternoon as children and their parents waited patiently on the beach in Port Monmouth.
After walking out in the Bay to about chest-high water, the duo slowly walked back to the beach dragging their night along the floor of the Bay collecting small fish, crabs and hermit crabs as they dredged through the water.
Children inched closer and closer to the water as the duo dressed in galoshes and high-cut wader overalls made their way back to shore.
“Everybody needs to have their hands wet so when you pick up the fish, you don’t hurt them,” Orens said, as he and Wicki laid the more than six-foot long net on the ground.
Children then quickly scrambled to buckets with Bay water sitting in them, dunked their hands and headed toward the net picking up small fish and crabs and putting them in buckets.
After dragging the net to the shore three times, Orens and Wicki skimmed through the shallow buckets identifying these bay creatures to a group of 20 children.
In a small clear plastic container, Orens held a small silver fish, no larger than four inches big, with a deep-silver strip running down from the head to tail of the fish. As its appearance suggests the fish was a Silverside fish. A small baitfish, this fish is on the bottom of the bay food chain.
Next came the bay anchovy, another baitfish. Wicki held the dead fish, which was smaller than the Silverside, comparing its size to other as the children peered over each other to get a closer look at the dead bay anchovy.
Moving up the marine life food chain, Orens put a five-inch kingfish into the clear plastic container.
“The kingfish is born a dark, black color so it blends with its environment so it can hide from predators,” Orens said circling the container around the group.
After identifying snapper, calico, horseshoe and blue-claw crabs, the group packed up the beach ending their summer-long program dragging buckets filled with fish and crabs back to the Bay releasing their catch.
The summer-long, free program hosted by the Monmouth County Parks System offered children an opportunity to learn more about the marine life of Sandy Hook Bay during this seining session.
For more information on the Monmouth County Parks System and the programs they offer visit monmouthcountyparks.com.