Sea surface temperatures for the second half of the year, July through December. The dashed red line represents the 2015 value, the second highest since 1854. Credit: Kevin Friedland, NEFSC/NOAA
March 25, 2016
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Warmer surface temperatures, increased wind speeds, and larger temperature differences among water masses are affecting the base of the food chain in ocean waters off the Northeastern U.S., modifying the timing and magnitude of plankton blooms in the region. These findings appear in the latest Current Conditions report from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), which tracks ocean conditions on the Northeast Shelf. The report covers July through December 2015.
"Temperature drives ocean ecosystems in the same way it drives weather patterns,” said Kevin Friedland, an oceanographer with the Center’s Ecosystem Assessment Program. "The report shows how water temperature change caused by climate warming is affecting ocean organisms in our part of the Atlantic -- spawning and the transport of eggs, young animals, and their prey. Warming is changing the ecosystem, and will continue to do so in the decades ahead."
Just like clockwork, fish hawks or ospreys have returned to begin raising a feathered family near towering skyscrapers and suburban sprawl. Sure, this isn’t pristine wilderness, far from it, but the reappearance of ospreys is one of the great natural wonders to watch for in New York Harbor.
Herald by every birder, wildlife watcher and outdoor enthusiast on either side of the estuary, the first sight of an osprey means winter is fading away and spring is slowly arriving. More importantly, ospreys are valuable indicator species for monitoring the long-term health of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Since the bird’s diet consists almost entirely of fresh fish, an abundance of nesting ospreys would suggests water quality and fish populations are improving to support many hungry beaks and gizzards.
After a rapid decline in population from 1950 to 1980, osprey populations have rebounded nicely due in large part to strong conservation efforts, the banning of the toxic pesticide DDT throughout the United States, and the construction of man-made platforms for nesting. Osprey numbers have increased and nesting pairs around New York Harbor are now numerous.
It’s all happening now! Massive schools of herring and bunker are swimming into the Hudson-Raritan Estuary from the Atlantic Ocean. The activity has not gone unnoticed by hungry fish eating birds, especially many migrating Northern Gannets, a large pelagic seabird. As the birds fly north to breeding grounds, they take time out to get one last meal. Forage fish close to the ocean’s surface make an easy catch for gannets that can dive deep from death-defying heights into the water. Seeing thousands of gannets fishing with plunge diving theatrics makes this one of the great natural shows to watch around New York Harbor.
Watch a video of this natural spectacle here:
It's one of the most magical times of the year. Come early spring, all life begins to stir. Buds on plants swell and burst into flowers. Leaves on trees begin unfurling like a butterfly's wings after emerging from a cocoon. The leaves are light, green, and tiny, so new and fresh before time and stress take their toll.
For sure one of the coolest looking shorebirds to call New York Harbor home during the spring and summer is the American Oystercatcher. Of all the shorebirds that hangout along the shore, this one is the most unmistakable and easiest to identify. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s a rather large bird with bold black, brown and white feathers. It has pale pinkish legs with sunny yellow eyes and rosy orange-red eye rings. Its most brilliant feature, though, is the bird’s long bright red-orange bill. No other bird around these parts has a groovy looking bill like that.
It’s a crafty feathered fisherman. The bird will use its long bill to clasp a clam or oyster before it can close up. The bird will then stab its bill into the shell to cut the strong muscle that holds the two halves of the shell together, and then it will stab the soft critter inside to enjoy a tasty mollusk meal.
Spotted several this weekend along sandy beaches near the entrance to New York Harbor.
By JUSTIN GILLIS
MARCH 22, 2016
The New York Times
Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries
The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.
The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.
“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
A draft version of the paper was released last year, and it provoked a roiling debate among climate scientists. The main conclusions have not changed, and that debate seems likely to be replayed in the coming weeks.
The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.
Photo from Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research
FROM NBC-NYC Channel 4 News
A young male Harbor seal tangled in fishing nets (gill netting and rope) off the coast of Long Island was rescued by a group of animal lovers Monday afternoon, March 21, 2016.
The seal was spotted stuck in gill netting by a Hempstead Bay Constable off the coast of Crow Island Leed near Meadowbrook Parkway, authorities said.
The constable called the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research, which sent workers to free the seal from the net and rescue it from the water.
The seal was taken to the foundation’s headquarters and treated for minor wounds, the group said in a statement.
It is being cared for in one of the foundation’s 17 seal tanks, the group said.
With the arrival of spring comes the sight of piping plovers to the Jersey Shore. This small sand-colored shorebird has been signaling the coming of spring for centuries. Yet with only around a hundred breeding pairs, life is not easy.
Many challenges exist to increase the population. Once plovers arrive, their success at raising a family depends on whether they'll be able to run a gauntlet of storms, flood tides, and prowling predators from hungry raccoons and foxes, to gulls and crows.
Garbage and human-provided food left on a beach are always trouble. It attracts hungry predators and forces piping plovers to abandon nests. Trashy beaches have resulted in unnaturally high predation pressure.
Avenue C in Manhattan after flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 en.wikipedia.org
It is preposterous to build in areas that are bound to flood. So why are real estate companies still doing it?
Are developers deluding themselves and others?Orrin H Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis and Keith C Pilkey
Monday 14 March 2016 12.12 EDT
Sea-level rise may be the most predictable outcome of climate change. Expanding warmer waters and melting land ice both contribute to flooding – and scientists agree that we are locked into sea-level rise for centuries to come. The question is not if we will retreat from the coast, but when. Still, the rush to develop the coast occurs at a maddening pace.
We now know that 13.1 million people are at risk of flooding along the US coast by the end of this century. A new study published in Nature Climate Change further suggests that massive migration will occur unless protective measures are taken. Since sea-level rise will speed up after the end of the century due to increased glacier and ice sheet melting, the flooding we face in this century is just the tip of the iceberg.
The problem is particularly severe along our 3,000-mile low-lying sandy barrier island coast extending, with a few breaks, all the way from the South Shore of Long Island to the Mexican border. Along this long barrier island coast, Florida has the longest and most heavily developed shoreline.
Image of Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit on fire 2010 from en.wikipedia.org
Published: March 15th, 2016
By Bobby Magill
The Obama administration on Tuesday pulled back its plan to sell new oil and gas leases off the southeast U.S. coast, ceding to environmental concerns and continuing a trend among federal agencies to slow fossil fuels development in an era of climate change.
The decision, part of a proposed five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing off of all U.S. coastlines, calls for closing the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to future development through 2022, allowing new oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico, and considering the possibility of future leasing in the Arctic.
Today, about 16 percent of U.S. oil production and 5 percent of U.S. natural gas production occurs on the outer continental shelf, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, where more than 31 billion barrels of oil and 110 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are locked beneath the seafloor.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday that the decision not to lease Atlantic coastal waters was made because many coastal communities oppose oil drilling off their shorelines. The administration also wants to avoid conflicts with coastal tourism, fishing and U.S. Defense Department activity.
No surprise, unseasonably warm weather around the New York metropolitan region has brought a bit of spring fever to many species of plants and animals. Magnolias are in bloom, tree frogs are making boisterous mating calls, and many people who fish are chomping on the bit to get out and catch something with scales, like a striped bass or winter flounder.
Yet, it’s not only people who are seeking scaly creatures around New York Harbor. Sleek seabirds known as Northern Gannets are on the feed for fish as well.
What started over the winter with just random sightings of gannets at Sandy Hook, Breezy Point or Coney Island has increased in the last few weeks with more seabirds in sight seeking a fishy meal.
It’s far from being perfect gannet watching time, but it’s a start. The estuary is slowly coming to life.
On Saturday, March 12th, a small but dedicated team of around 15 volunteers spent the morning cleaning up a significant amount of trash and debris in the tidal wetlands of Compton’s Creek in Middletown Township. It was a beautiful day for an unattractive job.
Members with the all-volunteer Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, with support from the NY-NJ Baykeeper and Monmouth County Clean Communities, fought back phragmites and catbrier to pick up a truckload of trash from the area. This cooperative effort will result in a cleaner, healthier area for the community to enjoy.
Scouring the swamp with trash bags, the volunteers removed dozens of trash bags filled with plastic water bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic bags, glass beer bottles, aluminum cans, Styrofoam and other debris swept in from storm tides or thrown in the grasses by thoughtless people.
If true, this would be an amazing find! This illustrates just how dynamic, interesting and biodiverse the ocean can be. There is still so much to discover about the Atlantic Ocean, especially the area of the ocean near New York Harbor where many millions of people live and work. A special watery place for sure. - JR
Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and the University of Massachusetts Boston have published a new paper describing evidence of Atlantic bluefin tuna spawning activity off the northeast United States. Larval bluefin tuna sampled from the Slope Sea-an area south of New England and east of the mid-Atlantic-seemed too young to have drifted from the Gulf of Mexico, where the western population of Atlantic bluefin are known to spawn.
Image from http://news.rutgers.edu/research-news/small-dragonfly-found-be-worlds-longest-distance-flyer/20160302#.VuHU5MczFlK
If wild animals could talk or if we could understand their language, the stories they would tell us, especially if we were nice to them! ~ JR
From: Rutgers University
Published March 3, 2016 07:18 AM
A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world's most prolific long distance traveler – flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent – according to newly published research.
Landscape architect Kristina Hill focuses on helping cities adapt to climate change, particularly sea level rise. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she discusses the challenges, solutions, and costs of saving cities from encroaching oceans.by winifred bird
Yesterday around New York Harbor, I spotted a pair of Atlantic Harbor Seals basking under the noonday sun at the end of algae covered rocky groin. They were just relaxing and warming up their body out of chilly bay water.
Water temperatures in New York Harbor range now from the mid 40s to the mid 50s. Air temperatures yesterday were in the mid 60s. Since water, compared to air, conducts heat easily, marine mammals need to find ways to stay warm as they lose a lot of their body heat in water than in air at the same temperature. We share this aspect with marine mammals. This is why people often feel cold when swimming in the water when the temperature is 70 degrees than walking on the beach at the same temperature. We lose our body heat.
For seals, since time spent on land is time not losing heat so quickly as in the water, hauling out is a critical piece of being healthy and happy and to maintain a high-quality energy balance.
Sandy Hook and New York Harbor just got a bit more sociable. The Killdeer have arrived and are looking for a good spot to lay a few eggs to raise a family.
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) belong to the shorebird family of plovers. Similar to all plovers, killdeer have compact, chubby bodies, with large eyes on a dove-like head.
The winds of March came bearing a message. Winter is not done yet.
Although March started off as a lamb on Tuesday with sunny skies and mild temperatures into the 50s, the roar of the lion could be felt by the end of the week. Cold air retuned along with snow and slippery conditions. About an inch of snow fell around Lower New York Bay today and weather forecasters are calling for snow showers late Saturday night.
If your wish is for warmer weather, take heart. The first day of spring will soon arrive. The spring vernal equinox takes place on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 12:30 am EDT. It's one of only two days (the other being the autumn equinox) when the Earth’s axis neither tilts towards or away from the sun providing equal amounts of daylight and darkness: twelve hours of sunshine and twelve hours of nighttime.
As daylight increases, so does the amount of heat absorbed by the soil and sky. The thermometer’s response is marked by warmer temperatures in the air and water, and all life begins to stir outside.
But don’t give up on Old Man Winter just yet. There is a reason why this month has the familiar term, the “winds of March.” Wild animals, plants and people better get used to a roller coaster ride of weather. March is often a changeable month or a transitional time. We can feel warm spring-like temperatures one day and late-season snowstorms another day. Loud and stormy weather with strong winds blowing the season open with the promise of flowering forsythia bushes and the shrieking mating calls of little amphibious
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