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Montville Township students build reef balls to help sea life off the Manasquan Inlet

A group of middle school students from Morris County finally got to witness a project that will help sea life off the Manasquan Inlet after two years in the making.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2022, 12:32 PM

Updated 744 days ago

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A group of middle school students from Morris County finally got to witness a project that will help sea life off the Manasquan Inlet after two years in the making. 
The group of 260 seventh grade students at the Robert Lazar Middle School in Montville Township made what are known as reef balls, and now -- they are part of the artificial reef just offshore.
They were all aboard the Norma K after a 2-mile journey offshore the Manasquan Inlet. The balls were lowered off a barge onto the reef, and their hard work is now adding to an artificial ecosystem for fish.
"I just recently learned that our coastline is all flat sand. It has no texture, no rocks or structures for fish to swim, and that's what we are doing to make these reefs,” says seventh grader Grayson Lawner.
The project came together thanks to the efforts of life sciences teacher and Jersey Shore native Karin Wardell, who secured a grant and worked with the Department of Environmental Protection to make this hands-on learning experience come to fruition. 
"I grew up down the shore,” says Wardell. “I always had a love for marine biology, being able to create these artificial reefs was an awesome thing for these kids to experience. Knowing that what we are doing is essentially going to help out with the fish habitats and hopefully increase biodiversity, which is awesome.”
New Jersey has several offshore reefs made up of the concrete balls. The students constructed them at the school back in May. They contain holes allowing for the fish to live in a natural environment. 
It’s all done in effort to help protect the $1.3 billion fishing industry in New Jersey.


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