Summertime brings back memories for me of being a kid on my dad’s boat in Boston Harbor. He’d disappear over the side in his scuba gear. I would wait on the boat, peering into the dark water, and then after what seemed like an eternity, suddenly he’d pop up with his mesh bag with mottled-orange lobsters wriggling about.
His haul would become our family summer lobster feast, a tradition we carry on to this day and that I now share with my own children. My dad doesn’t dive for lobsters these days, but goes the more conventional route of visiting the local fish market. The end result is still delicious, though it’s easy to overdo on the butter, as my grandmother always did.
Whether you’re going fishing, enjoying a New England seafood bake or lobster boil in your friend’s back yard, treating yourself to local oysters, or just cooling off in the water, summer brings many delights in our region. These are the days we cherish and these are the memories we revel in, all thanks to habitat!
July is Habitat Month
NOAA celebrates Habitat Month in July, and as an environmental specialist contractor in the Habitat Conservation Division, it gives me great pleasure to see people enjoying the results of the work we do to protect river, coastal, and marine habitats for future generations.
This is a time to remind people that we all benefit from healthy habitats. It’s not just for the fish and crabs that live in rivers and coastal habitats like seagrass beds and salt marshes. Popular commercial and recreational fish species, like striped bass, cod, haddock, and tuna, all feed on smaller fish that use rivers and coastal habitat for nurseries and shelter. Seabirds and marine mammals depend on the fish that require these habitats.
Our coastal economies also flourish when we have robust fish populations, buoyed by everything from whale watches to recreational bait shops to charter boat companies to restaurants to marinas to commercial gear suppliers, and more.
Worth the Work
It’s easy to get caught up in the (sea)weeds of my job, and lose sight of why our work is important. My days may be spent buried in scientific papers about the effects of turbid water on fish eggs or providing information about the best ways for a highway construction project to avoid disturbing seagrass beds--small pieces in the larger puzzle of how to keep our habitats healthy and productive. Our recommendations protect the most vulnerable fish life stages or habitats from losses that, when all counted, could have an enormous impact on aquatic food sources or population levels for a particular year.
When the first warm days with blue skies arrive, and there’s a new season of playing outdoors and enjoying New England’s seafood bounty ahead, I know that the long days in the office are worth it. I am grateful for my childhood connection to ocean habitats, and am thrilled that I am part of ensuring everyone can enjoy our rivers, oceans, and coasts.
Bring out the butter!