By Molly Daly

By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thanks to grants from conservation groups, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with several organizations to repair beaches on the Delaware Bay damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The effort is aimed at restoring critical feeding habitat for migrating shorebirds.

Robin-sized Red Knots win the long-distance commuting prize, flying more than 9,000 thousand miles from the tip of South America to breed in the Arctic. By the time they hit the Delaware Bay beaches for a pit stop, the birds are emaciated.

The New Jersey DEP’s Amanda Dey says they refuel by eating the super-nutritious eggs of spawning horseshoe crabs.

“It’s like putting cheesecake on your hips. Metabolically, it can be processed into fat, with very little physiological effort, and birds can gain between 8 and 15 grams a day, which is unprecedented.”

But, Sandy’s scouring put the beaches out of reach of the prehistoric-looking crabs. So since mid-March, sand has been trucked in to build up the shoreline, which Dey says is also a boon for bayside homeowners.

“This is a case where restoring sand for Red Knots and horseshoe crabs is the same thing as putting sand in front of houses. In this case, what’s benefiting Red Knots and crabs is benefiting communities as well.”

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