Drunken Bacteria and a Beach-eating Nor-easter
BEER BACTERIA TO THE RESCUE: I have to offer this tidbit from the seafood industry. It’s about a new company called Oberon, created by wiz kid marine biologist Andrew Logan, 38, out of Idaho Springs Colorado.
But what could Colorado have to do with seafood, considering to them the closest ocean is “Way over thataway”?
Well, first of all, Logan got his doctorate studying salmon in Norway. I’m not sure what the average response is when he says he’s a Doctor of Salmon but I’d sure hire him – figure out why later.
More significantly, one thing Colorado has in spades is beer, via abundant in-state breweries, both large (Coors) and designer (New Belgium Fat Tire Brewery) – 44 breweries in all.
Once again: So what the hell does beer in Colorado have to do with the frickin’ seafood industry – outside the encompassing axiom: “Beer goes good with any damn thing, even week-old sushi”?
Simple. Colorado has loads of god-awful stuff called brewery wastewater. Whatever your beer appreciation level might be, the wastewater from beer making is truly certifiably rankafied. So, here we have tank and after tank of skank-awful wastewater. Now you see the seafood connection, right?
Well, doesn’t Logan go and find a way to profitably utilize this truly hideous wastewater from breweries. He took tons of time and trained a type of microbe, i.e. bacteria, to ravenously dine on this wickedest of stuff. The microbes took to it with gusto. In fact, those little bacterial buggers were in microbial heaven. I picture many of them deliriously dining away, drunk as skunks, doing backstrokes atop the low-proof sludge, sucking in all the luscious stuff around them. Of course, there is always that one worrywart microbe nervously doggy paddling around, convinced the entire setup is a tad too good to be trusted. And right he is.
What Logan does next -- after the wastewater is so rich in microbes it can almost stand up on its own and cheer on the Eagles -- is rapidly dry the hell out of it. What remains are flaked microbes, which are also pure protein – good enough to eat.
And who’ll eat dried drunken microbe flakes? (Put your hand down, Sammy.) Fish will eat them.
When dried, these bacterial flakes are capable of helping fill the nation’s aquaculture bill. Actually, that bill part can be counted in “large,” since the fish-farming realm is now a $100 billion industry and growing at 10 percent a year. That’s a lot of microbial flakes to fit into the average wallet. It’s also the glitter behind Oberon’s success.
“The opportunity is massive,” said Logan, noting that some companies have been forking out $3 million a year to treat and/or store brewery-based wastewater. Imagine the response from a brewery’s CEO when Logan walks in and nonchalantly says he’ll take all the company’s wastewater – for free. “Al from accounting put you up to this, right?”
To launch the wastewater pickup phase of his business, Logan did a 16-month stint with New Belgium Fat Tire brewery. Oberon has now dived into big-time wastewater, recently taking on 5,000 tons of sludge from MillerCoors.
Anyway, Logan and his process are doing a service that could very well mean better angling for you and I. As you know all too well from the bunker industry, the heinous over-harvesting of forage fish is having the trickle up effect of savaging the stocks of gamefish. No forage fish, no fat gamefish. In recent years, the aquaculture industry is far the biggest buyer of feed fish. Bring on the microbes.
STORM ABOUT: This last storm was a decent doozy. Winds approached 60 mph. Still, in the big-picture rating system, it was maybe the upper end of moderate. With a touch of imaginary intensification, it may have reached the lower end of severe.
The thing that put this storm over the edge, particularly media-wise, was the fact it bore the tattered vestiges of a hurricane, the sexiest storm thing known to man.
The Island was, of course, under water at all the appointed low spots – the numbers of which seem to be increasing with alarming regularity. Still, it was hardly flooding of a bona fide severe scale.
Sidebar: Be it the prospect of more storms or the growing inventory of flood points, many municipalities (via the NJDOT) are simply leaving those orange-striped “Road Flood” warning barrels on-site, just pushed off to the side when things are dry enough. My wild and wooly guess is they’ll be needed again before next summer.
NOR-EASTERS ROCK: As the story of this once-Hurricane Ida’s attack on the East Coast buzzed across the nation, there was an injustice done to the integrity of our beloved nor’easters. Virtually every newscast went on and on about the “odd” way the former hurricane was causing such mayhem, despite being mere remnants.
The problem was everyone wanted to hang onto the romanticism of a tropical system instead of rightfully shifting gear and recognizing the former ‘cane was nothing more than a lowly low pressure system that became part of the established recipe for the tastiest East Coast nor’easters.
The nor’easter formula: Take a bite-sized low-pressure system (any low, not just one that once had a name) and quickly place it atop the relatively warm ocean waters off the Delmarva. You can then call it a “Hatteras Low” if you chose. Allow the low to expand, greatly. Note: It is often very difficult to predict the full extent of this expansion. Be ready to run if the expansion begins pouring over the edge of the ocean and onto the roadways.
Next, take a very large high-pressure system and place it anywhere from the Great Lakes outward into the northwest Atlantic. The larger the high, the better the blow.
Now, let the big high pressure keep the Hatteras low from moving on up, as nature most often has it do. The final product is richest right where the opposing rotations from the two systems join and come air-tunneling ashore, quite often in Jersey. It’s the perfect down-home nor’easter, just hanging out creating mayhem. Hurricanes have nothing over a kick-ass nor’easters. We don’t need no stinkin’ names.
DISTINCTLY YOURS: As with most decent-sized storms, this last one had a signature: beach erosion. The beach damage was pretty damn hideous. And even though nor’easters allow for a very rapidly beach and sand resurgence after things have calmed, there were some beach gashes that need some serious sand suturing.
In the case of hard-hit Harvey Cedars, the men in the hardhats are already on scene, as part of the scheduled beach replenishment. They began pumping sand Tuesday. That town-long fix won’t be quick but it’ll be big, actually bigger than expected thanks to the nor’easter.
Follow me here. The Army Corps has established the exacting dimensions for the borough’s beach and dune replenishment. The beach sand has to be just this thick here, while the dune dimension must be exactly this height over there. It has to be a bona fide bonus that the beaches of Harvey Cedars are so maximally ravished as the beach-fix commences. That’ll totally maximize the amount of sand pumped in from the borrow area out at sea. Te more the merrier, especially when the sand begins hiking southward.
Interestingly, Surf City officials are anxious for the HC project to get pumping. They know that newly pumped sand will quickly migrate southward, thanks to littoral drift. Surf City has seen its wide and wonderful replenished beaches hike on down to Ship Bottom -- and even as far south as Brant Beach. The HC send will follow suit, after unjustly dropping huge amounts of sand in North Beach, where many oceanfront homeowners held out on signing over their beach easements, preventing the project from pumping in sand into North Beach -- and leading to a lawsuit intent on ending the project completely. While that’s a hard and sandy pill to swallow, the more important big picture is the broadening of beaches for all the residents of New Jersey to enjoy.
One other huge thing: Any replenishment project now underway is in it for the long run. When Surf City’s beaches pass a certain erosional point, more sand will be pumped in to plump thing up.
I still say this spotty replenishment is a way to eventually widen all the Island’s beaches, south of Harvey Cedars. If we could get Beach Haven in under the replenishment gun -- namely the D.C. pulling of the plug on any more heavily federally-funded beach fixes -- we could see full LBI beaches for generations to come.
CLASSIC CRASH: The Classic ran into a brick wall made of water. (Huh?)
The weekend storm seriously overwashed the flow of big-bass weigh-ins that had blown the roof off previous fall tourneys. By late last week, we had already seen more 30-pound bass in this year’s event than we’d seen in three or four prior Classics combined. Then cometh the high-gust honk -- and away went the weigh-ins. I’m a tad surprised at the slowness of the recovery. For Sunday, Monday and Tueasday, all nice and fishable days, a mere handful of weigh-ins showed. However, this coming week really looks like a return to previousity. Outside the outside chance of a minor storm system by the weekend, we should be good to go, sky-wise. In fact, the winds will we be whippy enough to keep the needed stir yet down enough to make the suds and bayside very workable.
Being part of the Classics committee, I get each and every weigh-in emailed to me via a new in-computer fax system. It allows each participating shop to do all the form filling related to every fish. The forms are then sent to the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce -- and the other shops. For me – and likely all the participating shops -- this is the ultimate way to be in on every aspect of the event, i.e. every fish and it data. It really heightens the read on what’s happening out there. Quite cool.
Obviously, we’ll be meeting after the Classic event to begin any necessary refining of the system. It only gets better. Through this system, the Classic may once again be on track for the long run, as in another 50 years or so -- pending the utter destruction of the planet in 2012. I’m not serious. That’s all the biggest buncha doomsday crap -- and even the existing Mayans agree.
HOLGATE SHINES THROUGH, ANORECTICALLY: I know many folks are wondering how Holgate fared. Excellently. You heard right: excellently. Of course, that assessment needs a proper perspective (see further below).
The beach is looking good -- wide and flat and downright inviting. Unfortunately, Holgate remains shut to mobile anglers. That’s because of some ugly exposures right where we drive on. The now-familiar chunks of concrete and crap lie in the way, as does a few-foot drop-off. However, the entrance is nothing we haven’t seen many time before. The problem is the Long Beach Township Public Works crews have some serious repair work to do at other beach locales, including some with cliffs that present a danger to life and limb.
Onward to those broad and beautiful Holgate beaches awaiting the first mobile anglers. I want to qualify the above-mentioned “perspective.” The reason the Holgate beach is surprisingly decent is because it has been moved – and cleared -- as much as 30 yards further west. The wave action not only eroded the vegetation away but also scoured the once-overgrown area to smooth sand. meaning we lost another huge chunk of Holgate in the process. The ocean’s march to the bay in the vicinity of the former-Osprey Nest is getting big boosts with each passing storm. So what else is new?
Also hit hard was the Japan Hole area, just north of Holgate. Did those dunes get walloped or what? Twenty foot drops, no exaggeration. That area may actually be second only to Brant Beach in needing to be in the beach replenishment mix – under emergency terms. However, this area is also looking very good for surf fishing, though the usually excellent buggy entrance at Osborne Avenue is pretty chewed up.
ANTLER ANGLING: The whitetail deer count this fall seems quite good after a few down years. The big change is the very obvious move of the main deer population from the wilds and toward human habitation. That makes for some serious tweaking of deer stands, making double sure they’re a legal distance from habitations -- but still close enough to grazing and trail-walking areas. Entire Route 9 zone (Ocean County, Burlington County) is simply loaded with deer. However, they’re hugging the macadam, as it were.