‘Environmental history’ museum highlights NJ’s Bayshore region
COMMERCIAL TWP. — It's "living history," but for real.
There's no need for historical reenactments at the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, located in the Port Norris section of Commercial Township in Cumberland County, because according to museum curator Rachel Dolhanczyk, even though this is a relatively quiet region of New Jersey, some sort of activity is always happening.
Many people who tour this museum on the Maurice River, which focuses much of its attention on how humans have impacted the environment over time, tell Dolhanczyk they're interested in what's going on around the working waterfront that particular day.
"You do see oyster boats going by, you see these sand barges going by, there's a couple of shipyards up the river, so you might see the Cape May-Lewes Ferry getting towed up to get worked on," she said.
Bivalve, of course, means a hinged shell, so it's no wonder oyster shucking, packing, and a clam plant are all within shouting distance of the Bayshore Center, and Rutgers maintains a shellfish research lab next door.
Not as many people make their living oystering as did a century ago, Dolhanczyk said, but this area of the Delaware Bayshore proves that some indeed still do.
The Bayshore Center is also the customary home of the AJ Meerwald, a restored oyster schooner, although the vessel is currently in Maine for maintenance, scheduled to make its way south for the summer.
"We sail from ports around the state, so people can definitely take advantage, although we do encourage people to take a drive down to Bivalve," Dolhanczyk said.
As the low-lying area is known to flood about seven days per month, Dolhanczyk said many special events are weather-dependent.
But in general, the Bayshore Center at Bivalve is scheduled to open for the 2022 season on Friday, April 8 and will close in early October — around the time of the planned first-ever New Jersey Oyster Festival.
The opening date will also be the first "Second Friday" of the year, featuring nightlife with live music, a raw bar, beer, wine and dinner options, and the occasional guest speaker.
For more, go to bayshorecenter.org.