Golden Nugget Atlantic City recently took to social media to explain why an outdated spring signage billboard remains on the Atlantic City Expressway, and why the internet is applauding.
Ospreys have nestled in a billboard advertising shows featuring Frankie Avalon on April 30 and Dionne Warwick on May 14, according to the casino’s Facebook post. The billboard can be seen by travelers heading east on the highway.
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“For those wondering, we are aware of our outdated AC freeway entertainment sign,” explains a Tuesday Golden Nugget Atlantic City post. “Golden Nugget contributes to the conservation of our local wildlife, the ospreys. The endangered bird is currently nesting atop our billboard.”
Positive comments have flooded the post ever since, with users thanking the casino for their conservation efforts, for communicating on the subject, and even promising to visit the casino in the wake of this positive news.
Ospreys are carnivorous birds, with wingspans up to 6 feet, that can live up to 30 years in the wild. The species is one of the most widely distributed birds in the world, but they are mostly found in coastal areas as fish make up about 99% of their diet.
In New Jersey, ospreys nest along the Atlantic coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May, and along the Delaware Bay and River in Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester counties. According to a 2020 report from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the osprey population in the state is thriving — with 647 nests occupied, producing a total of 812 young. The next osprey population census in New Jersey will take place this year.
However, this was not always the case; while the coastal population of the species in New Jersey plummeted in the 1970s due to the use of DDT pesticides. In 1974, there were fewer than 50 osprey nests in the entire state, putting the birds on New Jersey’s endangered species list.
Given how much loved ospreys were on the Jersey Shore — the bird has been Stockton University’s mascot since the 1970s — conservation groups came together to help it survive.
Osprey populations recovered after DDT pesticide use was banned, and they were helped by the construction nesting platforms. By the mid-1980s, there were more than 200 healthy breeding pairs in New Jersey, moving the osprey population from endangered to threatened in 1985. Projection.
There are now more than 800 nesting platforms in the state, and an estimated 75% of nesting ospreys use man-made nesting structures — which apparently includes casino billboards on the AC Expressway.
At various times, there have been a number of live “osprey cams” streaming video from these nesting platforms, such as this one in South Cape May set up by The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.
Atlantic City structures are no stranger to conservation – in 2021, a nesting box for peregrine falcons was installed atop the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
While the Sheraton nest box was planned and the Golden Nugget billboard nest was not, we can’t help but join the ranks of Facebook users spreading praise. We just hope the casino will share photos of baby ospreys popping up over the smiling faces of Frankie Avalon and Dionne Warwick.
As for potential Golden Nugget guests who only get their news from billboards, it can be a bit of a wait to find out what live entertainment is coming to the casino next.
“(W)e will have to wait until the breeding season is over, after September 1, to change the message on this board,” the casino wrote on Facebook. “Thank you for your understanding!”