Wednesday, July 1, 2020

NECWA's new GoFundMe Campaign to Raise Money for Field Gear

Help Support NECWA through this new GoFundMe Campaign. 

To learn more and donate today, 
click HERE.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Thresher Shark Strandings on Cape Cod this Fall and early winter.

Thresher Sharks in Cape Cod, MA
By: Cory Farrelly
UMASS Dartmouth Intern

At the end of 2019, there were a number of Thresher Sharks washing ashore on Cape Cod beaches. Thresher Sharks are very unique sharks in the order Lamniformes, which are commonly called Mackerel Sharks. Threshers are easily identified by their extremely long caudal or tail-fin, which they use to stun their prey, making their prey easy to consume. Threshers can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. These species are highly migratory and can cover vast distances in a relatively short period of time. There are three species of Thresher Sharks: The Bigeye Thresher, Common Thresher and Pelagic Thresher. The Common Thresher is the largest species, reaching a length of 20ft and is the species that is found in New England waters. 

Dead Common Thresher Shark found in Wellfleet, MA
In the fall of 2019, I have responded to 2 stranded Thresher Sharks along the shores of Cape Cod. One shark was found in Uncle’s Tim’s Bridge on Duck Creek in Wellfleet. This shark was unfortunate enough to get trapped in a salt marsh during high tide. When the tide receded, the water most likely got too low for the shark and it could not survive. A local resident had actually seen the shark alive struggling to get out of the salt marsh a few days before. The shark was 6 feet 10 inches long. When we found the carcass, it was partially buried in the mud.
The second Thresher Shark carcass was found on Burton Baker beach in Wellfleet. The carcass was very fresh looking and had bled significantly through its gills. In addition to the blood from the gills, the shark had several marks along its body from Sea Lampreys. It also had interesting marks that appeared to be healed scrape marks on its side. The pectoral fins were completely buried in the sand, which suggested that it washed ashore then thrashed around and buried itself in the sand. This shark’s body was 7 feet long and with its tail it reached a length of 13 feet. 
All three species of Thresher Sharks are classified by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) as vulnerable. Due to their low fecundity (the amount of offspring they can produce), it is difficult for these sharks to rebound from losses to their population. Thresher Sharks are vulnerable to fishing, both commercially and recreationally. Commercially, their livers are used for oil and their fins are used in shark fin soup. By-catch is also an issue. Every year, 50 million sharks are unintentionally caught and often killed by the fishing industry. Recreational fishing also has negative impacts for the act of being caught can cause undue stress and extreme exhaustion that the fish may not be able to recover from. Many shark populations struggle to rebound from fishing pressures due to their low fecundity and long gestation periods so killing millions every year is detrimental to their populations. Since threshers are found worldwide and are highly migratory, regulations on this species are nearly impossible to enforce because it would require cooperation among many countries. 
To help Thresher Sharks and many other shark species, become more knowledgeable by learning more about them. Limit your seafood consumption, especially various tuna species, and be a choosy consumer using the Seafood Watch app from Monterey Bay Aquarium. Also, do not purchase any shark products, including shark fin soup.  

References for Further Reading

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ocean Exploration Cruise - Sunday, September 29, from 7 am to 1 pm

Tickets still available for this exciting offshore adventure:

Update on September 28, 2019 
  • The weather looks great for tomorrow so the trip is a GO!
  • Please be down at the 7 Seas Whale Watch dock parked and ready to board by 6:30 am for we will depart at 7:00 am sharp.
  • Dress in layers, wear a hat and bring sunglasses and binoculars if you would like. Cameras? Of course!
  • You can bring your own food and drink, but no alcohol. You can also purchase food and drinks from the galley so bring cash. I believe they also take credit cards, but cash is easier. 
  • We still have lots of room onboard so please continue to spread the word. If anyone want to join us, please have them register online. If there is no time for that, just have them come with cash or a check for payment. No credit cards. 
Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow. Thank you again for supporting NECWA. This fundraising event will allow us to purchase gear and supplies for our many projects and activities. 

Best Krill 


Ocean Exploration Cruise
Sunday, September 29, 2019
7 am - 1 pm
Leaves from Gloucester at the 7 Seas Whale Watch dock


Join us as we search the coastal waters off Massachusetts for marine wildlife of all kinds. NECWA's annual fall offshore expedition is a fun and exciting way to join experts offshore as we view marine wildlife in our coastal waters. 

Ocean Exploration Cruise - Fall 2019
Sailing Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
Time: 7 am to 1 pm
Boarding Time: 6:30 am (we leave the dock at 7 am sharp!
Location: Boat leaves from Gloucester Harbor aboard the Privateer IV, 7 Seas Whale Watch

Join the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) for an offshore adventure to support marine wildlife education, research, and conservation. This excursion is a fundraising event for NECWA, an all-volunteer nonprofit based in southeastern MA.

Enjoy commentary from our guest naturalists onboard including: Wayne Petersen (Mass Audubon), Jim Sweeney (South Shore Bird Club), Thomas Robben (Hartford Audubon Society), and Dr. Adrian Jordaan (UMASS Amherst), as well as NECWA staff like Krill Carson, Leah Horeanopoulos, Dr. Tammy Silva and Michael O'Neil.

When offshore, we and collect data on seabirds, whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, ocean sunfish, and other marine animals. If weather allows, we chum for seabirds, and incorporate a number of environmental sampling stations into our agenda for the day. This data is shared with other researchers in the New England area to support their efforts.

NECWA will also provide a free nature-themed raffle to thank passengers for joining us. If you would like to donate a gently used or new item to the raffle, please drop it off to NECWA staff when boarding and thank you. 

To learn more about this exciting trip or to register online through our Constant Contact Event site, go to and click on our Events page. There you will find a link to our Constant Contact Event site where you can learn more or register for the trip.

Adult tickets - $80
Student tickets - $65

For additional information, contact Krill Carson using the information below.

Best, Krill Carson
President, Marine Biologist, NECWA

Monday, August 19, 2019

Endangered Species Act - ENDANGERED!

Endangered Species Act Now Endangered

by Mel Edie

In 1973, the United States introduced the Endangered Species Act. This incredibly important legislation has served to conserve hundreds of threatened and endangered species as well as their habitats. Among the requirements to ensure successful protection include federal agencies working with environmental government services and the prohibition of "taking" (importing, exporting, etc) any of the listed species. To date, the Act protects over 1,600 domestic plant and animal species and has been 99% successful. However, under the Trump Administration, the strongest law protecting our biodiversity may itself be in danger. 

1- Bald Eagle is one of the species negatively impacted by these policy changes.

To read more about the Endangered Species Act, follow this link:

            This week, President Trump and the U.S. Department of Interior announced plans for significant cuts to the application of the Endangered Species Act. Not only does the public strongly support the law, but so do lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum, so changes have been slow or altogether impossible. Until now. The President has proposed modifications to the bill that would open previously preserved lands to mining, oil and coal drilling, and urbanization. Additionally, if companies believe that they will lose revenue because due to the restriction of using protected habitat, endangered species may be removed to allow businesses to move in. 

2- Rates of deforestation will increase as businesses move into protected areas.
The list of catastrophic changes goes on, and you can read more about them here:

3- Polar bears are the verge of becoming extinct if these policy changes are implemented.

Hopefully, these changes can be delayed from taking off. To help, write letters supporting the Endangered Species Act to your local politicians! Don’t support businesses who disregard wildlife by selling wildlife products or destroying their habitat! What every individual does to fight these bill changes does matter! 

Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Each one of us can make a huge impact. And, as always, be aware of your personal impact on the environment around you and globally. Fight to keep the Endangered Species Act strong to conserve all the listed species and to support increased biodiversity on our Mother Earth.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Terrapin Traverser

The Terrapin Traverser 

by Brendan McCarthy

            This summer, I worked on repairing a hand-made wooden prawn boat as my main project for NECWA. I am, in no way, shape, or form, an experienced carpenter. As a result, I was very much outside of my comfort zone throughout the entire endeavor. I consulted many boat repair shops and various other people in the field about how to properly fix up a boat that was not capable of floating.
The Terrapin Traverser right side up and freshly scrubbed.
            After many consultations, I began to gather the various materials required of me, including a sander, sandpaper, epoxy, resin, boat paint, etc. I was excited to take on a new challenge, something very outside my comfort zone. I was presented with a pristine opportunity to dive into a field of work that I had no previous knowledge of. This allowed me to grow as an intellectual and as a competent worker.
Brendan (red shirt) and Jacob (green shirt) sanding the bottom of the boat. 
The first step was to sand down the entire bottom of the boat. Next we had to caulk all the gaps between the wood. After the caulk dried, we had to sand the bottom of the boat once more. Then we applied fiberglass to the areas we had caulk and to areas that were cracked or weakened after we had applied one coat of epoxy. Then four more coats of epoxy and finally painted our finished product. 
The painted bottom of the boat. 
            The project allowed me to become better rounded, and eventually when the boat was put in the water, it did indeed float. Many thanks to AJ’S Boat Repair Shop for allowing us to house our boat by their ramp! With the guidance of various other people in the organization, YouTube videos, and a passionate team of people helping me with the work, we got it done.

Brendan with the Terrapin Traverser at AJ's Boat Co.
Catching terrapins while balancing on a boat definitely presents a skillset for us to further develop, but as time progresses, so will out ability to catch these animals to further our research and conservation efforts. Now instead of just flying for team terrapin, we can float too.

Ready to make our mark out on the water. Go NECWA!
Videos that provided me with ideas of how to work on the boat and the best way to approach it:
Sanding wooden small boat:
Applying an epoxy coating to a wooden boat:
Wooden Boat Revival:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Keystone Species: What They Are and Why You Should Care

Keystone Species: What They Are and Why You Should Care

By NECWA Intern Lydia Myers

A keystone species is any organism that is irreplaceable in its ecosystem.  These animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms significantly influence their surroundings and the number of other members of their food webs.  A defining feature of keystone species is that though they have a large impact, they’re not incredibly abundant.  Sea otters, African elephants, fig trees and hummingbirds are all examples of keystone species.

A kelp forest with otters, and without

Keystone species are often predators, not prey species.  Their job is to keep other species in check and maintain balance in the ecosystem. Sea otters prey on sea urchins in kelp forests.  Without this interaction, the kelp forests would be completely diminished by the sea urchins.  African elephants, on the other hand, create more grazing land in the savannahs, which increases the quantity and type of grazing animals that can live there, including gazelles, etc. .  African elephants help to promote biodiversity in their environment, rather than keeping other populations in check.

African Elephants in the savannah

Fig trees and hummingbirds represent more subtle types of keystone species.  Fig trees, while certainly not predators, help to maintain their ecosystems by providing resources in the form of food, housing and building materials for other birds as well as mammals.  Without the constant supply of resources, these dependent species would struggle to sustain their populations.  Hummingbirds, like bees, are pollinators that we and other species heavily rely on. Hummingbirds work as a link to maintain plant populations that help support other populations of animals.

In the New England region, copepods are a major primary producer and source of energy for fish, birds and marine mammals.  Basking sharks and North Atlantic right whales consume copepods as filter feeders.  Small fish eat copepods and are consumed by larger fish or by birds.  Crabs and shrimp also feed on these tiny organisms.


Keystone species, despite their importance to the environment and their own ecosystems, are not immune to the threats that the rest of the natural world faces.  Climate change and human action is especially detrimental when it encroaches on the lives of these species because they uphold many other species.  This makes conservation efforts and general respect for plants and animals imperative, as the collapse of one species means the collapse of many.

For more information and further reading, use the following websites:

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Your Guilt Free Gift Giving Guide

Your Guilt Free Gift Guide

by NECWA Summer Intern Lydia Myers

Buying gifts can be difficult, especially for the tree hugger in your life.  You want it to be personal, meaningful, and environmentally friendly.  If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the greenest member of your family, take a look at some of the companies and products below.  These gift ideas add a whole new meaning to the gift that keeps on giving.

Clothing and Jewelry and Other Apparel: Fashion forward and feel good choices
Sandcloud is perfect for your ocean lover. Based out of California and specializing in cute, beachy wares like towels, reef safe sunscreen, metal straws, and glass water bottles, Sandcloud emphasizes a plastic free lifestyle.  They also offer tee shirts made from recycled water bottles, which are incredibly soft and smooth.  When you buy from Sandcloud, 10% of your purchase goes towards marine life conservation, and 6 of their main recipients are listed under their mission statement.

Wonderful blanket that is light and easy.

Like Sandcloud, Happy Earth Apparel works with multiple foundations and organizations to help make positive change in the environment.  Their inventory is vast and includes apparel, backpacks, stickers, and more.  Happy Earth donates 50% of their profits to 10 different organizations.  If that doesn’t impress you, all their products are vegan, their packaging is recycled, and for every order, at least one tree is planted. 

Long sleeve shirt with one of many gorgeous designs

For every bracelet they sell, 4Ocean removes one pound of trash from the oceans.  The bracelets themselves have a cord made from recycled water bottles and beads made from recycled glass.  There’s a classic design, but they also offer different designs and packages that support different causes and animals.  Since their start-up in 2017, 4Ocean has removed over 2 million pounds of trash from oceans and coastlines.

Planet Love Life draws attention to the risk that fishing nets pose to marine life.  Their mission is to clear the oceans of discarded nets.  The nets are then transformed into bracelets, rings, and earrings.  Like 4Ocean, Planet Love Life has jewelry that is dedicated to specific causes.  Planet Love Life also organizes clean ups and works with a handful of non-profits.

A pretty dark blue bracelet made from fishing net

Technology: Innovative and Eco-Friendly Options for the Technologically Minded

The Pela Case is one of the only eco-friendly phone cases out there.  This company’s goal is to stop litter and pollution, not by picking it up, but by not producing it in the first case.  Besides, their outstandingly eco-friendly business model, Pela Case has some gorgeous biodegradable phone cases for both Apple and Android phones.  The company also donates to environmental causes has featured phone cases dedicated to some of those casues.

A biodegradable phone case with a coral reef design

Nimble is another step in the right direction for the technology industry.  Besides offering 100% recycled phone cases, they create plant based portable and wireless chargers.  Using a combination of plant-based bioplastics, recyclable aluminum, and fabrics made from organic hemp and recycled plastic bottles, Nimble offers a gorgeous and eco-friendly piece of technology.  Their packaging is also eco-friendly, and they offer a prepaid envelope for you to mail obsolete technology to a responsible recycling center.

Nimble products are made and shipped with sustainable materials

Donations: for When You Want To Do Good in Their Name
We would love if you made a donation to help support us and all that we do!  We also have an online store where you can buy apparel, stickers, and other goods.  Because we’re a non-profit, any gift or purchase you make goes directly to the animals we help and the supplies we need.  Put us on your wish list!  If you'd like to make a donation, use this link.  Our store can be found here.
Check out our online store for NECWA gear!

Sea Shepherd is a another non-profit with an amazing mission.  They take direct action to protect the oceans and work to expose any illegal activities.  Supporting Sea Shepherd is a great choice as a gift and they make it easy.  Besides basic monetary and memorial donations, they accept other charitable acts like vehicle donations, planned estate giving, stock donations, and they have an online store with profits that go directly to the organization.  You can also donate to their specific operations and missions. 

Similar to Sea Shepherd, the IFAW takes many forms of donations and also has a few petitions that help make a difference.  The IFAW takes on broader challenges, although Marine Conservation is one of their missions, along with Disaster Response and Wildlife Rescue.  This would be a perfect donation to make in the name of the animal lover in your life.