The Fish Story

A Race for the Rocks Might Arise on LBI; Using Earthquakes to Rattle the System

By JAY MANN | Jun 20, 2018

SHOWDOWN AT BIG ROCK: When it comes to erosion mitigation on LBI, it could lead to a race for the rocks. In fact, why not make it into a quasi-classic north versus south thing, as in Barnegat Light versus Holgate? Yep, this needs some explainin’.

I recently talked at length with Kevin Hanna, principal associate with the survey/scanning division of Maser Consulting, Mount Arlington, N.J. Amidst a cloud of young Mennonite women flitting around Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, he was doing high-tech survey work at the base of Quite-Old Barney.

I was hypnotically drawn his way by the slowly rotating, super-high-tech transit he was using to take measurements. At a glance, I knew that sweet surveying apparatus resided in both the ultracool and prohibitively pricy realm, the latter squelching my notion of getting one for my very own – you know, just to walk around holding. Hey, who wouldn’t want a softly humming, 3D laser-scanner surveying device – easily capable of recoding, to fractions of an inch, how things, like lighthouses, are standing, uprightness-wise.

As the transit turned, Kevin was recording the most intimate up-to-date details regarding the structural uprightness of the 159-year-old iron and brick landmark. This day, he was establishing what will become the baseline measurements of the lighthouse’s current posture, mathematically speaking. Maser Consulting will thereafter be doing monthly revisits to the same surveying point, with the same equipment.

With Barney’s recent baseline measurements close at hand, Maser Consulting will be detecting even the most miniscule changes in the lighthouse’s high-profile posture. Even a microscopic one-month increase in its tilt could be a sign of potentially maximal problems in the works. Through computer imagery – and an overlaying of monthly 3D images – any ongoing leanings can then be projected into the future. Highly applicable to an aging lighthouse: It’s not where it’s at, it’s where it’s going.

Weirdly, there are no historic baseline measurements for this celebrated structure’s upstandingness, no way to historically compute any long-term changes in its comportment. That said, there is little doubt among Barney devotees that the 169-foot tourist destination is a bit a-lean. While not yet leaning to a drunken-sailor degree, any tilt is a downward dip in the wrong direction.

State officials agree that something might be askew. I got a feel for that when Kevin rather nonchalantly told me N.J. is readying to seek bids for the construction of a new seawall, meant to buttress the base of state’s most-visited landmark. (I refuse to include Lady Liberty in a visitation vein, seeing she’s a bleedin’ tourist, residing on a contested island, claimed by both New York and New Jersey.)

Looking into the possibility of a maybe-soon-to-be seawall beneath Barney’s beam, I got some officially anecdotal input that the final design of such a rock abutment could/should be of a creative ilk. One weird possibility is a moat-like circle of water at the lighthouse’s base, made by extending, in a circular manner, the current tiny granite jetty residing just to Barney’s west. Far more likely is the arrival of your everyday seawall, adjacent to the current one – and similar in both size and shape. Such a commonplace abutment would seem more feasible, funding-wise.

My 2 cents: I’ll non-magically forewarn that an ordinary seawall next to the current one will most likely – and rather quickly – sideslip into the very deep and highly tidally dynamic underwater hole just north of the lighthouse. That hole, akin to a sinkhole, has been a deepening headache for decades. Thusly, a need for a better rock-trap, i.e. seawall.

Now, for kicks and chuckles, I’ll circle back to my “the race for the rocks” notion. Visiting Hypothetical Village, I envisioned a funding fight over rocks. In one corner is Long Beach Township, championing its cause to gain rock-hard money for a terminal groin in Holgate. Limbering up in the opposite corner is Barnegat Light/NJDEP, more than willing to go toe-to-toe to win the same “shore” money to save Old Barney.

No, you absolutely cannot call BL’s effort a kick to the Holgate groin. In theory, both rock ’em/sock ’em erosion-mitigating projects should be affordable in a state with an insanely high tax-revenue intake. Don’t bank on it, even with millions of tax bucks being gleaned from shore tourism. Just this week, the state announced an emergency-grade lack of cash flow. Applying an appropriate pun, getting money from the state might soon be like getting blood from a stone.

Anyway, for weirdos and watchdogs, it might be fun to see little old laid-back Holgate essentially going up against N.J.’s premier tourist attraction. Again, it’s sorta north versus south. I wonder if Holgate is far enough south to legally employ a rebel yell.

Of note: Barnegat Lighthouse is adjacent to a federal channel. And we all know how rich the feds are. LBT’s terminal groin would be purely state-funded.

THE STOMP STARTS HERE: Out of a devout dedication to stories of weirdness, I’m compelled to speak of manmade earthquakes. I’m taking about the trembler that registered on seismometers when futbol fans in Mexico City literally made the city’s volcanic earth move beneath their feet. They were crazily stomping around after their national team scored a FIFA World Cup goal against reigning champion Germany. By way of aftershock, that lone goal proved the difference in the match.

Of the quake, Livescience.com wrote, “According to a translated tweet from the Institute of Geologic and Atmospheric Investigations in Mexico, the small earthquake ‘originated artificially’ and was possibly ‘because of mass jumping’ that occurred in celebration of Mexico’s game-winning goal.”

Until I read about the Mexico ground-shaking soccer-point celebration, I had never heard of such a crazy thing. Then, in one of my typical follow-up research frenzies, I discovered NFL fans in Seattle had also gotten on the seismograph boards, while cheering and jumping about after their team scored a touchdown.

“One of the biggest incidents occurred in 2011, when Seattle Seahawks football fans responded to an epic 67-yard touchdown with such ferocious roars and stomps that the activity registered as a magnitude-2.0 earthquake on nearby seismic equipment. Legend remembers this incident as the ‘Beast Quake’ and it even inspired scientists to compare the relative loudness of Seahawks fans to NASCAR fans – another notorious seismic force in the sports community,” reported Live Science.

Compulsory tangent: Not that many years back, a coordinated effort to build a NASCAR racetrack in our Pinelands had the track’s masterminds swearing the sound “would not have an adverse impact on the surrounding forest.” My response to them: “I agree there would be no adverse impact … providing every living creature out there is a huge NASCAR fan.” Those guys hate me now, even though I’m a devout NASCARer.

Now, follow me to special weirdness place, wherein I have fathered this bizarre notion of speaking out, seismically. Such is covered by the First Amendment, which guarantees, somewhere near the end – down where most folks just give up reading and sign – the inalienable right to express oneself … via earthquakes. Hey, it’s in very small print, auright. Somehow our forefathers foresaw the future potential for earthquaking as a form of social statement and foot-pounding upheaval.

By my thinking, sending out a coordinated rumble of political dissatisfaction is highly doable. Sure, it might involve World Clock precision, via cellphones. But once everybody is on the same timeline, fellow Americans could rock the rafters of town halls, statehouses and even D.C. by jumping up and down in perfect political unison, issuing earthy waves of rolling disapproval.

Hypothetical case in point: “Mr. President, initial results are in regarding your suggestion for even bigger tax breaks for industrial leaders. Wow. Check it out, sir! We’re detecting astounding 2.9 seismic disapproval earthquakes from New Jersey, New York, Florida and … Oh, Lord!  Southern California registered 3.3 on the Richter Scale … right before it has seemingly slid into the ocean from the Andreas Fault westward. Forgive me for saying this, but I think it might be your fault, Mr. President. Hey, you catch that pun? It might be your fault … you know, like the San Andreas fault? Anyway, it looks like we lost a load of voters to the Pacific. I forget, is that good news or bad news for us, sir?”

Hey, the above is based on a totally hypothetical future president!

If you support my right to write this, be at the ready at precisely 10 a.m. tomorrow, with boots on.

GOOD OLD DAD: For Father’s Day, I remembered my dad. He was the greatest dad ever, though he could be pragmatic at times. I remember him sitting me on his knee one day as a small child, offering, “Son, the world is your oyster” … before setting me down on the floor and nonchalantly mumbling, “Of course, if you hate oysters, you’re pretty much clean outta luck, my boy.” I’m still not wild about the slimy things.

RUNDOWN: With summer beginning this week, we traditionally and mentally prepare for the cooler angling times following hot spring fishing. This year, it might be tough to tell a cooldown from what was far from a blazing fishing spring. To be sure, there were some microbursts of torrid angling, highlighted by bursts of boat fishing to beat the big bass band, a slew of 50-pounders being taken and mainly released after photos were grabbed. Surf fishing for stripers? A few beauties came to light, but nothing steady whatsoever. Here’s hoping resident bass offer some summertime sunrise, sunset and after-dark fun.

Spring bluefishing was adequate – and remains fun in and around Barnegat Inlet – but showed a precipitous drop-off from the past two bluefish-laden springs.

Occasional bail sessions were had by folks going after black seabass.

Black drum fishermen beat the drum slowly, some calling it a “very off” season overall. There are still drumfish to be had, mainly within south Barnegat Bay waters.

The spring phase of fluking has seen moments of fat-flattie glory, but nothing of drop-dead excellence. As is often the case with fluke, when you’re on them – and they’re on the bite – it’s easy to load up. Then, next day, same place … nada.

The above isn’t a glowing look back, but I think it’s a decently accurate overall read. As to the whys and wherefores of the slowness, I’ll gladly aim blame at the weather, which was truly crapafied virtually all spring long, offering very few easy-fishing opportunities. When skies allowed, the fish were afoot. Fishing windows would then get blown shut on a dime, most often by honking NE winds.

As we move into the season of the meat, when fish are caught and kept for barbecues and freezings, fluke will be in the crosshairs, per usual. While I don’t micro-report on fluke fishing – since it’s often a fishing free-for-all out there – I do post many a take-home photo on my blog fishlbi.com. Stop in … and let me know what’s hooking. No sites burned, just stories told.

Sharky Note: I get a goodly slew of shark photos from now into fall. They are shot right before the fish are mandatorily released. I thoroughly enjoy – and often publish – the pic. However, when landing the likes of sand tigers, please don’t wrench their mouths too far open for a famed “smile” shot. Not only could that damage the goods, prior to revitalization and let-go, but it’s illegal – as is sitting atop a shark for a selfie. That warning comes right from law enforcement’s mouth. While a photo is worth a thousand words, it’s best if it doesn’t turn into a thousand bucks … in fines.

I recently wrote that Florida is really cracking down on shark-based shenanigans, especially surfcasters chumming in truly dangerous sharks. I then got official word that the crackdown on “shark abuse” by anglers now covers pretty much the entire Eastern Seaboard. So, fish nice. No guessing who’s watching.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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