Year after year in late March or early April the fish hawks, a.k.a. Ospreys, return from winter territories in the tropics to New York Harbor to raise families. Males and females are often monogamous. They will meet up and re-occupy the same nest they had used the year before to lay eggs and take care of young. In many cases using the same nest as a home for many years until ruined by storms.
This spring at Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge Township, NJ, returning Ospreys will find a shocking surprise. They have been evicted from their long-standing nesting platforms by other raptors.
For over ten years various species of seals have been seasonal visitors to Sandy Hook National Recreation Area. What started with just a few seals resting on a sandy spit of land has expanded to well over 100 seals, mostly harbor seals, relaxing on long stretch of beach after a busy night foraging for fish, clams, crabs, and squid.
Seeing wild seals is an extraordinary experience. It quickly reminds people just how connected we are to the Atlantic Ocean, and how important our tidal waters have become once more for marine mammals.
Yet, we are loving the sight of seals to their distress. We need to show seals some respect.
Image from blogs.ifas.ufl.edu
PUBLIC RELEASE: 23-FEB-2016
Urban soils release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
Tracking biological emissions will allow more accurate assessments of climate action programs
In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings. Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2 , in a process termed "soil respiration", to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.
February 23, 20161:53 PM ET
A new study suggests that sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate and that the problem will continue well into this century.
"Sea level rise in the 20th century was truly extraordinary by historical standards," says Bob Kopp, an associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University, and who is lead author on the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sea levels rose by roughly 5½ inches in the past hundred years, Kopp says, noting, "That's faster than any century since at least 800 B.C., since the founding of Rome."
Kopp's team based its findings on dozens of earlier studies carried out around the world. Those studies determined past sea levels by looking at everything from microbial fossils to the locations of ancient Roman ruins along the Italian coast.
New York Harbor can be a very harsh place during the winter. For starters, it’s cold, bone cold. Wind chills cut exposed skin barren and bleeding. Water temperatures are frequently near freezing with patches of floating ice adding ice cubes to an already chilled cocktail. Winds blow strong across the bay, bitter and biting winds gusting 20 to 30 knots from the north. Rough seas and choppy waters often rule the day. Forcing water to run fast and furious. It’s not a very friendly or favorable place to be outside for long periods, let alone all winter.
Yet, various waterfowl invade the bay every winter. Hardy diving ducks migrate to New York Harbor, including Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, Jamaica Bay, and the Navesink River, from summer nesting sites up north, mostly across northern Canada and over the coast of Greenland. They come here to feed, preen, and de-stress after a busy breeding season.
Several species of ducks call the chilly waters of New York Harbor home during the winter. Many have fanciful and whimsical names: buffleheads, scoters, scaup, eiders, mergansers, and goldeneyes. These are ducks that are robust, tough, and can only be seen during the winter. Once the warm embrace of spring arrives, these waterfowl quickly fly off to migrate northward and begin another busy breeding season.
A sad sight along the shores of New York Harbor. The body of a lifeless sea turtle was discovered this morning on a beach in Sandy Hook Bay, located downstream from New York City.
The body was badly decomposed. Not much to protect or make an identification. Scavengers in the water had a good meal. Recent storms and high winds must have combined to wash up the poor critter.
It was a small sea turtle, less than three feet in length. Certainly a juvenile, but since the body was so severely decomposed it was hard to tell what species. Most likely either a young loggerhead or Kemp’s Ridley. These are the two most common sea turtles to call New York Harbor home during the warmer months of the year.
Seals and onlookers at Sandy Hook National Park in Highlands. 2/21/16 (Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
More than 100 seals lounge on island on Sandy Hook Bay
By Myles Ma | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 21, 2016 at 12:50 PM, updated February 21, 2016 at 4:43 PM
Sandy Hook - More than 100 seals were lounging Sunday morning on Skeleton Hill Island on Sandy Hook.
Over 100 seals are currently hauling out at Sandy Hook's Skeleton Hill Island on Sandy Hook Bay. Park at Lot C, cross...
Posted by Gateway National Recreation Area on Sunday, February 21, 2016The National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area shared a photo of the seals and invited visitors to Sandy Hook to have a look.
By about 2 o'clock, a crowd had gathered to get a look at the marine mammals, which were already headed back into the water.
A seal was also spotted Monday on the Hudson River, drying off on an patch of ice. Firefighters helped it back into the river.
Study Investigates Proliferation of Plastic in Waterways Around New York
By LISA W. FODERAROFEB. 18, 2016
The New York Times
KEYPORT, N.J. — At the office of NY/NJ Baykeeper, an environmental group, Sandra Meola spread out her haul. For six months last year, she plied the bays and rivers around New York City, skimming the shimmering surface with a fine-mesh net in search of her nemesis: plastic.
Here it was in abundance. A kelly-green floss pick. A swatch of Styrofoam. A Reese’s candy wrapper. A plastic bottle cap. A cigarette filter. A squiggle of fishing line. A nutrition label. And a bright orange drinking straw. “That’s from Dunkin’ Donuts,” she said of the last offending item on the table.
Yet another example of nature out of balance when predators are limited or nonexistent. No doubt our suburban environment around New York Harbor provides a landscape that offers many delights and some degree of security for herbivores.
If we really wish to bring back balance then we need to work with nature to somehow find a way to increase predators and biodiversity. As predator populations increase, they put a greater strain on prey populations and act as a top-down control, pushing prey toward a state of decline.
The main predators for turkeys are bobcats and coyotes, which like to kill adult hens; opossum, skunks and raccoons, which like to eat eggs. Foxes and great-horned owls also occasionally kill adults, especially nesting hens. Do you find predators scary, then at least we should stop feeding wild animals. We should also tell NJDEP and other state officials to stop re-introducing wild animals when a natural predator-prey relationship does not exist.
We all need to learn to live with nature and foster better biodiversity.
A new national park for the ocean not far from New York Harbor.
Although few people will ever get to truly enjoy this marine reserve due to its faraway location off the coast (see below for a better idea of where it's located), biodiversity will be protected for a large group of aquatic species, especially highly threatened deep-sea corals, and a variety of marine mammals, fish, shellfish, and other marine invertebrates.
This new protection zone in the Atlantic Ocean covers an area approximately the size of Virginia in waters offshore of six states. It starts at depths of approximately 1,500 feet. While commercial fishing will still be allowed in the area, fishermen may not use any gear that will reach the bottom of the sea floor, which would damage deep-sea corals.
Never heard of marine reserves before? You’re not alone. The concept is fairly new to the general public, even though these sanctuaries in the sea have been around for many years. The first marine reserve or sanctuary was created by President Ford in 1974 off the coast of North Carolina as a way to preserve the wreckage of the historic Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. Today, there are 223 marine reserves in the waters of the United States, including in the Great Lakes. They help to protect around 3.1% of U.S. waters, a small number for sure, but better than nothing. Clearly more needs to be done, especially to connect marine reserves so as not to have them fragmented and in pieces.
Marine reserves protect rare and threatened species, provide opportunities for scientific research and tourism, and help sustain fisheries around the world by providing safe places for aquatic species to forage, spawn, or mature. There are so many benefits to marine reserves the only real question is why don’t we have more of them in the United States?
Brrrrrrrr. The New York City metropolitan region just logged in its coldest temperatures of the winter so far. It was so arctic the frigid air mass was historic and one for the record books.
The low temperature at Central Park in New York City on Valentines Day dipped to a daily record low of 1 degree below zero. The coldest Valentines Day on record in New York City in more than 100 years and the coldest winter reading at Central Park in more than 20 years since January 19, 1994, or when Bill Clinton was President. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Central Park occurred on February 19, 1934 when it was Siberian at -15 degrees.
The harsh cold wasn’t just confined to Central Park. It was ice cold at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday where the temperature dropped to 1 degree, which broke the old record of 4 degrees set in 1979. LaGuardia Airport tied the record low of 1 degree, previously set in 1979. The low temperature in Newark, NJ dropped to zero early Sunday morning, which also tied a record set back in 1979.
Around Sandy Hook Bay, the polar vortex sent low temperatures to a frigid 4 degrees on Sunday morning and kept very cold temperatures all day across Lower New York Bay. Highs were only in the teens. The cold was especially cruel as it followed a few weeks of temperatures averaging above normal. Temperatures were an extraordinary 30 degrees lower this weekend, compared to highs last weekend. Old Man Winter was clearly in charge.
With arctic air in place, how did the little sparrows and other songbirds survive around the estuary from the brutal cold? It turns out these little birds are not so delicate or dim-witted as we might think.
It’s not easy being a wild animal around New York Harbor, especially when you’re a big mammal and the cold grip of winter has a hold of you. It’s a stressful and chilly time trying to stay warm and forage for food when only a meager amount can be found.
Yesterday, with high temperatures only in the teens and wind chills below zero, I observed three very hungry white-tailed deer in my backyard feeding on the underbrush. Not much of a herd, probably just a few does working their way through a fragmented suburban forest following well-worn trails and seeking sustenance.
They were browsing on twigs, buds, grasses, and leaves from deciduous plants, maybe even digging for a few nearby roots, practically anything they could find.
BITTERLY COLD TEMPERATURES AND DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS WILL MOVE INTO THE AREA THIS WEEKEND. * TEMPERATURES SATURDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY MORNING WILL FALL TO BETWEEN ZERO AND 5 ABOVE IN AND AROUND PHILADELPHIA AND AREAS SOUTH AND EAST, ZERO TO 5 BELOW IN EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA AND NORTHERN NEW JERSEY, AND AS LOW AS 12 BELOW IN THE POCONOS. WIND CHILL VALUES DURING THIS TIME COULD REACH LIFE THREATENING LEVELS AS COLD AS 15 TO 30 BELOW ZERO, WITH THE COLDEST IN THE POCONOS. * HIGH TEMPERATURES ON SUNDAY WILL ONLY BE IN THE TEENS, EXCEPT IN THE SINGLE DIGITS IN THE POCONOS.
With artic cold temperatures arriving this weekend, maybe the chilliest of the winter season, it sounds like a good time to have some fun indoors counting birds at outdoor bird feeders or around the yard. It’s time again for the Great Backyard Bird Count!
The 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will be held Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2016. This is a free, fun, and easy event that asks bird watchers of all ages to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report sightings online at birdcount.org. This will help create a real-time snapshot of bird populations.
Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It’s a fun way to stay connected or get acquainted to bird life in your neighborhood while staying warm and dry in the comfort of your home. It's also a great way to get kids involved in nature activities and science!
You don’t need to be a seasoned beachcomber to find sand dollars or sea biscuits around New York Harbor. You just need to spend some time along the edge of the ocean.
Winter and early spring are perfect times to search an ocean beach for sand dollars. Storms seem to be more numerous and intense during this period. An angry ocean with high waves crashing on the beach will easily throw relics of the sea onto the high tide line of a beach, including empty shells of sand dollars.
The Rockaways, Breezy Point or Sandy Hook down to Long Branch are three good places to start. Bundle up and start walking slowly along the edge of a winter’s beach.
Surprise! Waking up today, what did I find but another few inches of fresh snow falling on the ground. It was another marshmallow day around New York Harbor.
It didn’t take long for soil and sidewalks to be covered with more snow. Just yesterday most of the ground was bare of snow. The first time that occurred since it was covered from the great 2016 blizzard a few weeks back.
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.
The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.
With patches of dirty ice packed snow scattered about much of the New York metropolitan landscape, and talk of more snow to come in the weather forecast, it’s hard to take the chatter of an early spring too seriously. Sure, days are getting longer, high temperatures have been above normal for over a week (as I write this article the high temperature yesterday was a balmy 58 degrees) and even our local celebrity groundhog, Staten Island Chuck has predicted an early spring.
It seems like everyone is looking forward to the arrival of another spring season around New York Harbor, even red-winged blackbirds. Male red-winged blackbirds are hard to overlook among the dull and dim winter landscape. They’re glossy black with bright red-and-yellow feathers on both wings.
Yesterday, I spotted my first red-winged blackbird of the year. It was a solitary male showing off his bright red and yellow patch of feathers in a large tidal wetland area of Sandy Hook Bay, located downstream from New York City
From: University of Leeds
Published February 4, 2016 07:15 AM
The first Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators shows that decreasing resources mirror the decline of pollinating insects.
The study, by researchers at the University of Leeds and University of Bristol supported by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Fera Science Ltd, combines vegetation surveys taken over the last 80 years with modern-day measurements of nectar to provide the most comprehensive assessment ever published.
An article published in the journal Nature today provides new evidence to support the link between plant and pollinator decline.
Groundhog day is a tradition that comes to America from Germany. Early Germanic people believed that badgers had the ability to predict the weather, particularly the duration of winter. People would use this prediction to help make a decision when to plant crops.
As many Germans immigrated to America, especially to Pennsylvania, they kept this tradition alive using groundhogs instead of badgers. As legend goes, if the second day of February is cloudy, the groundhog will stay above ground, meaning that winter will soon be over. If the day is sunny, the groundhog will become scared of its shadow and return to its burrow, meaning six more weeks of winter.
Many towns in Pennsylvania hold local Groundhog Day events. The most famous event being in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where over 40,000 people regularly arrive to find out if the groundhog will see its shadow or not. This event has officially been going on since 1886.
Groundhog Day events seem to have increased over the years since the release of the movie by the same name, which starred Bill Murray and was released in movie theaters over 20 years ago.
Around New York Harbor, we have Staten Island Chuck, or more formally known as Charles G. Hogg. Good ol’ Chuck is a groundhog who lives in the Staten Island Zoo in Staten Island, New York City.
Woodchucks or groundhogs or whistle pigs are rodents that live around New York Harbor as wild animals. They belong to the family Sciuridae (the squirrel family) and are related to "marmots," which are ground squirrels that can be found in the western United States. Woodchucks are diurnal (most active during the day) and are particularly active in the early morning and late afternoon hours. They stay close to their burrows when feeding and typically only stay above ground a couple of hours per day.
Unlike most mammals, woodchucks are true hibernators. They begin hibernation in October or November and come out of hibernation in mid- to late February, or whenever air temperatures gets warmer.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell