History of Mordecai Island

June 1614
Captain Mey, a Dutch explorer, sailed up the Jersey coast. Coming ashore in the vicinity of Atlantic City, he was unable to walk fast or far without stepping on the nests and eggs of all manner of shore birds. The air above him blackened with thousands upon thousands of frightened, screaming waterfowl. It was because of this novel and interesting incident that Captain Mey named the adjacent area “Eyren Haven”, which, when translated from the Dutch, means “Harbor Of Eggs”. Hence the prevalence in the vicinity of Long Beach, of names embracing the words “Egg Harbor” including Little Egg Harbor.

1700s
Long Beach Island came by its name quite logically at one time it was simply a long, empty, sandy beach. In the 1700’s the New Jersey barrier islands were named after their obvious attributes (mainly length) or in location to the nearest navigable inlet. So we saw names such as Short Beach (Tucker’s Island) and Long Beach or Eighteen Mile Beach (that’s us, Long Beach Island) also known at the time as Barnegat Beach. South of these islands was Little Beach which, today, is part of the Brigantine Wildlife Preserve owned by the federal government.

1835
Early maps show Mordecai Island as part of Long Beach Island.

1875
Charts from 1875 on show Mordecai as a separate island sometimes with and sometimes without the name attached to it. A pair of American Oystercatchers takes flight from Mordecai Island. As many as four pairs nested on the Island in 2000.

1936/1937
The northeastern side of Mordecai Island from approximately the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club to the site of the last Beach Haven Yacht Club (between Centre Street and Engleside Avenue) is dredged, thus allowing boaters access to Liberty Thorofare from the north. Before then, all boating traffic had to enter and exit from the southern end of Mordecai Island. Before dredging, the northeastern side of Mordecai had been a mud flat about 2 feet deep.

1945
Army Corps relocates main channel of Intracoastal Waterway. Previously, the natural channel curved out toward Long Point across the bay towards the mainland.

1952
Architectural plans are drawn that calls for a “future bridge to Mordecai” leading from the end of Virginia Avenue (Webster’s Lagoon) to Mordecai Island! Virginia Avenue is a short street veering right as one heads north on Leeward Avenue along the bayfront.

1960
Mordecai Island deeded to Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club thanks to the generosity of the Morton Wilson family.

1975
Army Corps dredges the channel opposite the western edge of Mordecai to a depth of six feet.

1980
Gap opens through Mordecai Island, cutting Mordecai in two.

1986
Cut is fully established.

1995
Aerial surveys by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 1971, 1977, 1991, and 1995 show that between 1971 and 1995 the western edge of Mordecai Island has receded in excess of 100 feet in some places; the gap has continued to widen.

1997
The Trust for Public Land in a 1997 study, Beyond The Century Plan, Biological Studies And Land Conservation of the Barnegat Bay Watershed, rates Mordecai Island “high” in terms of habitat values. This study lists “salt marsh” as one of five habitats that deserve priority attention, saying “this is important for three reasons: contributing to the food web that supports economically important fisheries, serving as a buffer against major storms,
and supporting numerous endangered, threatened and rare species.”

1999
Northern tip of Mordecai separates from rest of island.

November 1999
Ninety-six (96) stakes placed along the western edge of Mordecai Island, 8 feet back from the edge of the sedge, to measure the extent of erosion. Measurements of the stakes have been taken at periodic intervals since then, documenting continued erosion along the western edge. See the chart below that shows between May and October 2001, there were pockets of erosion opposite ten stakes of between 15-39 inches. An examination of the sod bank at low tide reveals that as much as three additional feet of sod is in danger of
breaking off along large stretches.

2000
The Richard Stockton Coastal Research Center, under the direction of Dr. Stewart Farrell, Director and Steven Evert, completes an erosion study of Mordecai Island to both document the extent of erosion and loss of habitat values.

August 28, 2000
Board of Commissioners of Borough of Beach Haven passes a resolution supporting efforts to preserve Mordecai and stabilize erosion.

April 2001
Dr. Stewart Farrell, Director, Richard Stockton Research Center, develops a proposal to stabilize the western shore of Mordecai Island using detached, emerged breakwaters. This proposal is based on recent advances in shoreline stabilization applied in Chesapeake Bay by the State of Virginia.

June 15, 2001
The Board of Commissioners of Long Beach Township passes a resolution supporting efforts to preserve Mordecai and stabilize erosion.

June 20, 2001
The Board of Chosen Freeholders of Ocean County passes a similar resolution.

July 20, 2001
Mordecai Land Trust is organized.