Field Trip I Travelogue

by the members of CPSP118G Group III.

Coordinator:
Ariel Oxman

Editors:
Phillip Andreason
Chiles VandenBosche

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary Center
Jill Rooth's Marsh Ecology Tour
Ted Hegnauers Stream Processes Tour
Bretton Kent's Chesapeake Beach Tour
A Rogue's Gallery of Fossil Shark Teeth


Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

By Ramar Vaughn
November 18, 1999

The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a wildlife and habitat sanctuary deep in Anne Arundel County, consisting of approximately 620 acres of land. Because of its unique location along the eastern shores of our Patuxent River, it presently supports many types of plant life, as well as wildlife. There are also considerable amounts of habitats which are unique to this location.

Jug Bay is also a center for research, not only for the ecologists who run the park, but for the students who come to visit. There are numerous activities that can be planned for research at the center; including the study of wildlife, plant life, water pollution, nutrient dynamics, plant succession, and rarity of plants.

A map of the sanctuary:



Jill Rooth's Tour of Jug Bay Marsh Ecology

Text by Natalia Costello
Images obtained by C. J. Wright

November 5, 1999

Discover the freshwater tidal wetlands of the Patuxent! Join Jill's tour at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and learn about marshes and how they are full of life! The following are highlights of Jill's tour through these marshes.

Our tour of the marsh ecology of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary was conducted by Jill Rooth, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory. Researchers, Jill Rooth and other University and High School Students, conduct scientific research in the sanctuary. Volunteers are also very important to Jug Bay, especially with educational and research projects.

Did you know that inland freshwater marshes are formed in the hollows left by glaciers, overflowed rivers, on lake edges, or in ponds that have filled up with sediment? The Patuxent estuary is an example of a river valley that was flooded by rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age. Like other such valleys, it is filling with sediment. At one point in time, ships frequented Jug Bay. However, too much sediment has accumulated and ships can no longer transport goods via Jug Bay.


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There are 3 major types of marsh vegetation; high marshes, low marshes, and scrub shrubs. In each type of marsh vegetation, there are distinct grasses and other herbaceous plants and shrubs that predominate.

High marshes consist of short cord-grass, called hay, spike grass, and glasswort. Aquatic submerged plants (pond weeds) colonize high marshes along with floating plants (pond lilies).


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Low Marshes can be found in the East Coast of North America. Low marshes are dominated by a single species, salt-marsh cord-grass. Low marshes support reeds and wild rice. However, at Jug Bay, the wild rice is dying down due to the fact that the black birds are eating away the grains. Very low marshes support sedges, bulrushes,jewelweed, and cattails.


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Scrub shrub wetlands are usually referred to as "swamps". Small trees and bushes that are no taller than twenty feet high grow in the scrub wetlands. The water is close to the surface and next to rivers, lakes, and streams. More examples of aquatic plants include cattails, hairy water fern, water lily and duckweed. Willows, spirea, and common rush grow well here. These plants have more than one stem and the stem is flexible.
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Club mosses can also be found growing in the shade of large trees on higher ground. Club mosses are primitive spore-bearing plants that are related to the tree-sized club mosses and lycopods of the great coal swamps of the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian periods.


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Freshwater marshes provide nesting and habitats for various animals. Some of the more common animals include waterfowl, shorebirds, muskrats, nutria, sora rails, ring-billed gulls, great blue herons, snails, turtles, leaches, water snakes, rockfish, ducks, red wing blackbirds, marsh harriers, and many aquatic insects.


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A Tour of Two Run Creek

Text by Jonathan Armoza
Images obtained by Joshua Kermond

November 18, 1999

Ted Hegnauer gave us a tour of Two Run Creek at Jug Bay and explained the current status of Two Run Creek as we walked downstream. Ted is a candidate for Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Maryland, College Park and is currently doing research at Jug Bay.


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Upstream, signs of Hurricane Floyd were evident. The creek had overflowed during the storm and molded the soil and sand along the banks of the creek. On the outer side of the curve, the creek had cut into the sediment, leaving a cut bank. On the inner side of the curve, sediments were deposited, resulting in a point bar. Large amounts of sand had been brought in by the Hurricane, as shown by the core sample taken by Ted. The core sample exhibited a thin layer of sand on top of a thick layer of mud.


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Ted pointed out some prominent plant life in the forest surrounding the creek and role it played in the habitat of the resident wildlife. The birds in the area inhabit a plant called the spicebush, whose leaves are also food for local insects. Another interesting plant along the path downstream, was the club moss. (For more information about the ecology of the area, read about the Jug Bay marsh ecology.)


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Further downstream the particles deposited by the creek became finer and smaller, due to there being less kinetic energy in the water. The channel was less defined and there were signs of beaver activity. Ted explained that recently the beavers in the area had begun construction of a new dam and this was causing changes in deposition downstream. Beavers can have a large impact on environments, restricting the variety of trees in the area they inhabit.
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At the mouth of the creek, the wetlands were finally visible. Ted explained that the wetlands at Jug Bay are vernal; they are wet in the spring, but dry up in the summer. The spatterdock lily (illustration at left) is prevalent in the wetlands, adapted to both wet and dry environments; its arrow-shaped leaves allow it to bear storm force winds. From the looks of the mouth of Two Run Creek, it might have been summer; the channel was very shallow.

Ted took a core sample, revealing some sand and mostly clay. The sand on top had recently been deposited by Hurricane Floyd. Dispersed between layers of sand and clay there were dark bands of organic material, indicating the increased wetland plant life. Thus concluded a very interesting tour of how meteorological and biological factors affect a deposition environment such as Two Run Creek. Research currently being done at the Two Run Creek site includes how depth affects different silt types and how chemicals are removed from the soil.


Chesapeake Beach and the Calvert Cliffs

Text by Kenny Takata
Images obtained by Fang Huang

November 1, 1999


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Our tour or the Chesapeake Beach Miocene fossil locality was led by Dr. Bretton Kent of the University of Maryland, College Park Department of Entomology. According to Dr. Kent, during the Miocene epoch 17 million years ago, the southern region of Maryland was covered with warm, shallow water abundant with life. This region, primarily Calvert Cliffs, was swarming with invertebrates like corals, clams, and oysters. During this period of time, these rich waters were also the home for many marine vertebrates: whales, porpoises, turtles, sea cows, and sharks were some of the animals inhabiting these prehistoric waters. After generations of these animals perished, layers of silt blanketed their remains, fossilizing bone and teeth that would later be found by curious college undergraduates, eager to learn about the Chesapeake's history and fossilization.


During the Miocene, climates were warmer than today, allowing animals such as alligators to flourish in the Chesapeake Bay region. Compared with that time, much of the modern world's water is locked up in continental ice sheets. As a result, current sea levels are lower, and the Miocene sediments of the bay region are exposed above water. Today's cliffs were formed by recent beach erosion.


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Remains of many sharks that were preserved in the cliffs can be found even today. By finding fossilized sharks teeth it's possible to measure the diversity of Miocene shark species. Among the most common were Galeocerdo contortus, and G. triqueter (Tiger Sharks), Hemipristis serra (Requiem Shark), Oxyrhina desorii (Mackerel Shark), Sphyrma prisca (Hammer-head Shark), and Odontaspis elegans (Sand Shark). See below for a comprehensive listing of the sharks teeth found. While searching the beaches of Calvert Cliffs, it is common to find 100 to 200 sharks teeth a day. As students at the University of Maryland, we were on a tight schedule so we could only spend a couple hours searching for fossils at the cliffs. But despite our time shortage all of the students from the ELT program at UMD were very proud of the amount of sharks teeth we went home with. The Chesapeake beach environment, particularly Calvert Cliffs, is a unique place to learn about the history of the Miocene epoch, to learn about fossilization, and to have a good time hunting fossils.

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Examples of fossil shark teeth recovered at Chesapeake Beach

Identified and scanned by Patricia Scott

Specimens appear at twice their actual size.


Scientific name: Carcharhinus priscus
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Gray shark
Found by: Fern Gookin
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Scientific name: Carcharhinus priscus
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Gray shark
Found by: Fern Gookin
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Scientific name: Carcharhinus priscus
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Gray shark
Found by: Natalia Costello
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Scientific name: Carcharhinus sp.
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Gray shark
Found by: Fern Gookin
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Scientific name: Galeocerdo contortus
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Tiger shark
Found by: Dr. John Merck
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Scientific name: Isurus hastalis
Group: Broad-tooth Lamniformes
Common name: Mako shark
Found by: Christopher Wordlaw
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Scientific name: Isurus desori
Group: Broad-tooth Lamniformes
Common name: Mako shark
Found by: Annette Murano
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Scientific name: Hemipristus serra
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Snaggletooth shark
Found by: Dr. John Merck
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Scientific name: Carcharhinus egertoni
Group: Carcharhiniformes
Common name: Gray shark
Found by: Myung Choi
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Scientific name: Carcharias cuspidata
Group: Narrow-tooth Lamniformes
Common name: Sand tiger shark
Found by: Amanda Pomicter
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Scientific name: Carcharias cuspidata
Group: Narrow-tooth Lamniformes
Common name: Sand tiger shark
Found by: Dr. John Merck
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Scientific name: Carcharias cuspidata
Group: Narrow-tooth Lamniformes
Common name: Sand tiger shark
Found by: Dr. John Merck
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Scientific name: Squatina subserrata
Group: Squatiniformes
Common name: Angel shark
Found by: Nikkia Hansberry
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Scientific name: Aetobatis sp.
Common name: Eagle ray
Found by: Dr. John Merck