Westport River Watershed Alliance
February, 2021
Dear Members and Friends,
Now that we are in a new year, we look forward with hope and optimism that it will be better than the last year. It has been quite a wintry stretch, but spring will be here soon; and hopefully, we can all begin to emerge from the Covid hibernation that has impacted us all so profoundly.
This month's newsletter shows how the Watershed Alliance is still going strong, thanks to the generosity of all our members and supporters. Our winter speaker series is proving to be enormously popular, our science and education programs are still our top priority, and we are planning to get back to our traditional public events as soon as possible.
We continue with our theme of WOW – The Wonders of the Watershed – with our upcoming annual art show in the month of April here at the River Center - "Celebrate WOW - Finding Solace in Art and Nature." And we will launch a new series of outdoor activities in June for National Rivers Month - "Experience WOW!"
We are so looking forward to welcoming guests to our River Center education room, resuming our popular events like the Summer Concert and Summer Gala --perhaps in 2021, depending on when the dangers of COVD diminish sufficiently. 
We are pleased to present our latest video, all about the Westport River salt marshes - their beauty and significance to the local landscape and ecology. Please take the time to watch by clicking the image at the right. All of our educational and entertaining videos can all be viewed by visiting our web page at: www.westportwatershed.org.

WRWA 2021 Annual Meeting

WRWA will hold its 2021 Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 7 at 11 a.m. This will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. This will be solely a business meeting, with no featured speaker.

Agenda will include: 

Appreciation of outgoing Board, Committee members and volunteers
State of the Organization
Financial overview of 2020

To register to attend the virtual meeting, please email Steve at: outreach@wrwa.com
 A Zoom link will be sent to you when you register.
Tom Jansen
We are saddened by the passing of our good friend, long-time board member and extraordinary volunteer Tom Jansen.
Tom was always a cheerful presence at our many events, including River Day and the Summer Gala. His contributions while serving on the WRWA Board of Directors were numerous, including acting as treasurer for several years. His kindness was appreciated by everyone with whom he interacted.

We will miss Tom greatly and wish all the best to his loving family and friends.
Report on Quantifying Potential for Oyster Aquaculture and Impacts on Estuarine Nitrogen-Related Water Quality
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
We recently mailed our members a book documenting research done in Cockeast Pond. The Coastal Systems Program at the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at UMASS Dartmouth received a USEPA Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grant– with WRWA as a project partner -- for a four-year research project using Cockeast Pond as a “natural laboratory”. This is all part of WRWA’s overall efforts to conduct research and take action to protect the River.
As communities across Southeast New England seek new approaches to lessen the impact and impairment from increased nitrogen levels, oyster aquaculture is a commonly-identified approach that is gaining momentum across the region. While the plans to use aquaculture continue to grow, there has been almost no quantification of the effectiveness of this approach. To address this gap, this project used Cockeast Pond—a saltwater pond with a high level of nitrogen (N) enrichment as shown in the previous 9 years of water monitoring by the Alliance and SMAST team. N removal by oysters was assessed by deploying and supporting a large oyster array, and monitoring the resulting habitat and water quality. The project was designed to quantify the oyster aquaculture as a method for estuarine nitrogen remediation.
One of WRWA’s goals is to keep people informed about topics regarding the health of the Westport River and its watershed. Many of these topics are interrelated and complex, and addressing them is valuable in order to raise awareness and understanding of the concerns facing the Westport River and its environment. For most of its existence, the River has been able to tolerate the amount of nitrogen entering its waters while experiencing few negative impacts. Unfortunately, that is no longer true.
The solution for cleaning up Cockeast Pond is complex. It will require a well-engineered plan to increase the tidal exchange while still protecting the habitat for herring migrations. This will require extensive permitting and cooperation with the Town, Department of Marine Fisheries and local stakeholders.
WRWA Art Show
"Finding Solace in
Art & Nature"
Coming in April

The 2021 WRWA annual art show will have some changes in format necessitated by the ongoing COVID emergency.

This year's show will not be at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery as in previous years (the gallery is closed). We will have a live, in-person show at the River Center, with limits on the number of people attending at any time. We are also having the show later - it will be for four weeks in April, with the hope that we may be able to have a reception on May 1.

The show and auction will also be on-line. We have enlisted the services of an on-line service that will show the entries and allow people to bid. Also, we plan to publish a program booklet as in past years.

The show will run from April 7th until May 1. More details about visiting the art show will be coming up in our March issue.
Winter Speaker Series

We had a very successful talk with Dr. Dan Gibson all about Horseshoe Crabs on January 28, with one hundred people logging in for the fascinating lecture. We still have a few slots open for our on-line lecture on Sharks with Dr. Greg Skomal on February 25. Email outreach@wrwa.com if you would like to take part.
Commonwealth Corps service members Jenny and Chelsea performing weekly maintenance on the River Center aquariums.
Westport preschoolers enjoy a remote lesson from Shelli and the education team, who are delivering programs via live video.
Thank You for Annual Fund Drive

A great big thank-you to all who contributed to our successful Annual Fund Drive. In this most difficult of years, we are honored and humbled by your outpouring of support for the Westport River Watershed Alliance. We look forward to continuing on with our mission to preserve and protect the Westport River watershed, now and for future generations.
Summer Environmental Education
Positions Open

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is seeking two qualified candidates to fill our seasonal, summer internship positions. The positions are 40 hrs./week at a rate of $13.50 hr., from late June until the middle of August (exact starting and ending dates flexible). The interns will work under the supervision of the Education Director, assisting with various projects. WRWA received a generous grant from BayCoast Bank to fund this position with understanding that preference be given to applicants that are enrolled as students at BCC or UMass Dartmouth.
More information on the position and how to apply can be found here:
Call for Photo Entries - 2022 WRWA Calendar Contest

The Watershed Alliance is calling for entries for the annual photo contest for the 2022 calendar. We are looking for landscape and nature photos that show the unique beauty and diversity of the Westport River watershed (i.e. the river, streams, wildlife, plants, etc.). Photos from all seasons are being sought, limit 5 photos per person.

  • Pictures should be submitted as JPG's.   
  • Image size should be no smaller than 10 x 8 inches (pixel dimensions 3000 x 2400).
  • Image resolution should be 300 dpi or greater, file size 1MB or greater.
  • Deadline for image submission is May 1, 2021. 

Each image should be given a title by the artist and the name of the image file should match the image title.  The artist should also include their name, so that they can be credited in the calendar. Image submissions can be emailed to outreach@wrwa.com.

By sending in your pictures you are allowing WRWA to use your pictures to inspire the appreciation and celebration of Westport’s beautiful estuary. WRWA is grateful for the talents of local photographers who share their wonderful photographs annually for the popular calendar, which also features charts of the tides throughout the year.

Our members will choose the winners on-line, as we did so successfully last year.
Creature Feature:
Atlantic Sea Scallops
Placopecten magellanicus
by Commonwealth Corps Educator
Chelsea Thiboutot

Atlantic sea scallops can be found in the northwest coast of the Atlantic, spanning from Nova Scotia all the way down to North Carolina, and are commonly harvested seafood. Sea scallops can be found in saltwater and are larger than bay scallops, which are significantly smaller and found in estuaries. Sea scallops can be found in shallow waters, but the Atlantic sea scallop is primarily found in the deep sea. The shell of the sea scallop is most commonly 6-9 inches long, and usually has a pinkish red shell. 

Sea scallops have about two hundred eyes that line their mantle. Their eyes can be bright blue in color and have similar function to a telescope, meaning that their eyes have curved mirrors that focus light. Scientists are still trying to understand the complete function of the eyes of the scallop. 

Sea scallops are bivalve mollusks. Their adductor muscle binds its two shells and allows them to open and close. This helps the scallop evade prey by propelling themselves through the water. This makes them different from other bivalves, like oysters and clams, which live inside a hinged shell but are not able to freely swim. The average lifespan of a sea scallop is about 20 years. They can produce hundreds of millions of eggs each year and usually spawn in the summer and fall. Scallops are plankton at the very beginning of their life cycle, meaning they are microscopic and drift along in the water with little ability to swim. As they grow and get bigger they eventually settle at the sandy bottom of the ocean.  

Sea scallops feed on plankton, krill, algae, and tiny particles floating around in the water. It is believed that sea scallops are consuming large amounts of microplastics. It is unclear what effects this may have on the humans and animals that consume them, but the best thing the community can do is to make sure that we all pick up after ourselves and keep our beaches and oceans clean of litter.  

WRWA 2021 Calendar is Here Now!

We still have some copies of the new WRWA photo calendar with tide lines. They are available through our web page, at the River Center, and at Partners Village Store. Get your copy before they're all gone!
Thank You to our 2021 Corporate Sponsors