Urban Wildlife Bounty
Research reveals cities support a surprising wealth of species
01-26-2015 // Cynthia Berger
National Wildlife Federation
I'M STROLLING THE GROUNDS of the New York Botanical Garden, a quiet green space in the noisy heart of the Bronx. The sun is hot, but once I leave the neat, conventional garden beds and enter the Thain Family Forest, the air is cool under old-growth oak and hickory trees. And when the roar of a JFK-bound jet dies away, I can hear catbirds, white-eyed vireos and a kingbird running through their vocal repertoires.
I’m walking the Spicebush Trail with Myla Aronson, a Rutgers University scientist who is the lead researcher on a groundbreaking study of biodiversity in cities across the globe—a study that refutes what she calls the myth of biotic homogenization. “Everyone assumes that because of globalization, cities are all the same in terms of the plants and animals you find there—mostly rats and pigeons,” Aronson says as we stroll. “It is true that biodiversity is much lower in cities than in undisturbed habitats. But it’s much greater than we expected.”
Completed in 2014, the study was a collaborative effort by two dozen scientists from universities and research institutions around the world. During a four-year period, the group looked at studies of bird diversity in 54 cities and plant diversity in 110 cities. The aggregate data reflect what individual researchers are finding at the local scale: encouraging signs that many species thrive in cities. Researchers in France, for example, recently recorded nearly a third of the nation’s 900 wild bee species living in and around the bustling city of Lyons.
Watch: Raccoon, Real New Yorker, Risks Life And Limb To Ride NYC Subway
It's a miracle this little guy made it out of the MTA system alive.
By Simone Wilson (Patch Staff) - Updated June 27, 2017 2:34 pm ET
MANHATTAN, NY — An adorable little NYC raccoon put his young life on the line last Tuesday when he boarded a rattly, decrepit, decades-old 6 train — at risk of breaking down or blacking out or running off the rails or smashing into a tunnel wall, or any number of other MTA doomsday scenarios haunting NYC in 2017, at any given second — all the way up the east side of Manhattan.
And through it all, our raccoon, real New Yorker that he is, just kept on slurping up scraps from a little Tupperware bowl that some woman was holding for him (just go with it), unflinching in the face of danger.
Hammerhead shark caught, released at Cape May beach
Updated on June 27, 2017 at 11:08 AM
Posted on June 27, 2017 at 11:03 AM
BY JEFF GOLDMAN
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
CAPE MAY POINT- A family fishing and swimming in Cape May Point reeled in a huge surprise over the weekend at the county's famed Sunset Beach.
A video and photos shared on Instagram show an injured hammerhead shark in the water off Alexander Avenue as the fisherman pulled it to shore and later returned it to the waves.
"This young hammerhead had a nice chunk eaten out of him so something out there was biting him," Colleen Marie said in her Instagram post. She had been swimming in the same spot just 10 minutes earlier.
The family took some quick photos of the shark and then released it into the water as the brief second video concludes.
Leaping Whale Nearly Capsizes New Jersey Fishing Boat
“Moby Dick” encounter was “definitely one of the craziest experiences in my life,” says Paul Ziolkowski.
By Mary Papenfuss
06/25/2017 01:20 am ET | Updated 1 day ago
Three New Jerseyites got a startling, too-close encounter with an enormous humpback whale that leaped from the sea right next to their 19-foot boat.
The force of the massive creature’s heave from the water rocked the boat and flipped a fish into its bottom.
“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit,” said Paul Ziolkowski as he managed to barely keep his cool and capture the humpback on video.
Ziolkowski, of Atlantic Highlands, was fishing with companions not far from the Verrazano Narrows separating Staten Island and Brooklyn when the whale suddenly appeared. Ziolkowski boasted: “I got it on film, too!”
“This definitely was one of the craziest experiences in my life and I’ve had many. Who ... would have thought I would see some Moby Dick,” the local welder and mechanic — who goes by the name “Pauly Walnuts” on Facebook — wrote in a post. “These #NewJersey waters are serious.”
Seconds before the encounter, Ziolkowski had spotted the whale chasing Atlantic menhaden, fish also known as “bunker.”
“That humpback was chasing bunker all the way up to the side jumped out of the water and tapped the hull of my boat knocking bunker into the boat. Crazy, I know it sounds like a fish story LOL but these #NewJersey waters are serious,” he wrote.
Contact:Brandi Biehl (Sea Turtle Recovery)
June 15, 2017
A 200-plus pound loggerhead sea turtle called “Tammie” is receiving treatment for propeller scars and other injuries at Sea Turtle Recovery’s facility at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ.
After the turtle was stabilized with fluids and transported to their facility with help from the West Orange Fire Department, Sea Turtle Recovery staff removed 38 pounds of barnacles, algae, mussels, mud and other organisms off the 214-pound sea turtle.
“Tammie is the largest Loggerhead our nonprofit has cared for thus far, and thanks to all of the support and groups that came together, she now can focus on getting better,” said Sea Turtle Recovery’s co-executive officer Bill Deerr.
After the majority of debris was removed, staff found five old and partially healed propeller cuts, as well as injuries to the turtle’s front flippers. At this point, there does not appear to be any neurological damage. Blood work and radiographs will provide more information about Tammie, who is stable and recovering.
“Rehabilitation takes time, care, and support from the public. Sea turtles have real fight, so we are optimistic that Tammie will make a full recovery,” said Brandi Biehl, co-executive officer of Sea Turtle Recovery.
The floating turtle was spotted on Monday, June 12, by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson approximately three miles east of Cape Henlopen, near Lewes, Delaware. After reporting the turtle to experts at the Marine Education, Research, and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) and NOAA Fisheries, the crew monitored the turtle until they were able to get help from MERR responders to capture the turtle. Once on board, the sea turtle was evaluated and stabilized by staff from Sea Turtle Recovery, who had joined the rescue effort.
“It took a lot of coordination and teamwork between the Lawson crew, MERR and Sea Turtle Recovery to rescue the turtle,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Rizzo, commanding officer of the Lawrence Lawson. “It’s a great feeling for the crew to know that we had a part in saving an animal in jeopardy of becoming endangered.”
According to NOAA Fisheries, sea turtles are frequently found with injuries from boat strikes.
“All sea turtles in U.S. waters are threatened or endangered,” says Kate Sampson, Sea Turtle Stranding and Disentanglement Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. “Propeller scars are common injuries we see. If you’re out on the water, we ask that people go slowly, especially in areas where sea turtles may be feeding – such as areas with seagrasses, crabs, and mollusks. If you see jellyfish at the surface, keep a look out for leatherbacks, too.”
In total, more than six organizations and countless individuals joined together to help this injured reptile.
“With endangered and threatened species going extinct every year, it is inspiring to know that there is a strong passion and commitment within us all to make sure these animals have a future.” said Bill Deerr.
After hearing the story that unfolded, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. says, “This demonstrates what a dynamic facility Sea Turtle Recovery is. Not only are turtles being cared for and rehabilitated, but it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers these reptiles face.”
Tammie’s recovery will be a long process, but Sea Turtle Recovery hopes for a final release back into the ocean. They plan to continue notifying the public about Tammie’s recovery through their Facebook page and inside their public space at the Turtle Back Zoo.
If you see a sea turtle in trouble, please report it to NOAA’s Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 866-755-6622 or to your local stranding response organization.
For more information about Tammie and Sea Turtle Recovery, please call 609-667-4076 or go online at www.seaturtlerecovery.org.
About Sea Turtle Recovery
Sea Turtle Recovery, STR, is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sea turtles and educating the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles, threats endangering them, and ways to protect their future. The Sea Turtle Recovery is a separate nonprofit located inside Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. STR provides staffing, food, medicine, surgeries and other treatments to sick and injured sea turtles until they can be released back into the ocean. Sea Turtle Recovery also performs outreach throughout the region to raise awareness about sea turtles.
Season's first West Nile-infected mosquitoes found on Staten Island
Updated on June 19, 2017 at 2:11 PMPosted on June 19, 2017 at 2:08 PM
BY THOMAS CHECCHI
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The city Health Department has detected mosquitoes with West Nile virus on Staten Island, the agency reported Monday.
It is the first time this season that the Health Department has found the virus in mosquitoes in New York City.
The infected Culex pipiens mosquitoes were collected in Rossville, according to the Health Department, which also announced that no human cases have been reported so far.
Mosquito season in New York City typically spans from April through September.
In response to the Rossville discovery, the Health Department says it is increasing mosquito surveillance in the surrounding area by installing additional mosquito monitoring traps.
There are currently more than 60 surveillance sites citywide.
The Health Department will spray pesticide to target mosquitoes if persistent West Nile activity is detected, the agency said.
According to the Sophisticated Edge: Encyclopedia of Answers, Deer are fast, skilled swimmers, who can cross lakes and rivers at up to 13 miles per hour. They will often take to the water when they are frightened or to escape predators.
Deer emerges from the surf
Updated on June 17, 2017 at 1:21 PM
Posted on June 17, 2017 at 11:59 AM
BY PAUL MILO
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
New Jerseyans are accustomed to deer turning up just about anywhere these days -- along major highways, in suburban back yards, dodging traffic in the downtowns of the state's largest cities. Last year, a doe jumped through an unlocked window at a Bergen County middle school.
Even the waters of the Atlantic are not immune to their presence.
On Friday afternoon, Tyson Trish, a former photojournalist for the Record of Woodland Park, was at the beach with his wife, Gina -- who recently won the Democratic primary for the 24th District Assembly seat -- and their children. Around 2 p.m., they suddenly noticed a deer trying to steady itself in the rough surf nearby and Trish grabbed his camera.
Strange southern fish are not just showing up off the coast of New England, people fishing around New York Harbor are also regularly catching or seeing fish and jellyfish from warming waters arriving earlier, staying later, or here for the first time.
Feeling the Heat: How Fish Are Migrating from Warming Waters
Steadily rising ocean temperatures are forcing fish to abandon their historic territories and move to cooler waters. The result is that fishermen’s livelihoods are being disrupted, as fisheries regulators scramble to incorporate climate change into their planning.
BY BEN GOLDFARB • JUNE 15, 2017
Yale Environment 360
The Cape Cod Canal is a serpentine artificial waterway that winds eight miles from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay. On warm summer evenings, anglers jostle along its banks casting for striped bass. That’s what 29-year-old Justin Sprague was doing the evening of August 6, 2013, when he caught a fish from the future.
At first, Sprague thought the enormous fish that engulfed his Storm blue herring lure was a shark. But as he battled the behemoth in the gloaming — the fish leaping repeatedly, crashing down in sheets of spray — he realized he’d hooked something far weirder. When the fisherman finally dragged his adversary onto the beach, a small crowd gathered to admire the creature’s metallic body, flared dorsal fin, and rapier-like bill. Sprague had caught a sailfish.
It doesn’t take an ichthyologist to know that sailfish don’t belong in the Cape Cod Canal. Istiophorus albicans favors the tropics and subtropics; it so rarely visits New England that Massachusetts didn’t even have a state record. But strange catches — including cobia and torpedo rays — have become more commonplace. Over the last decade, the Gulf of Maine, the basin that stretches from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed faster than nearly every other tract of ocean on earth, as climate change joined forces with a natural oceanographic pattern called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation to increase sea surface temperatures by 3.6 F from 2004 to 2013. The results have been ecological transformation, upheaval in marine fisheries management, and an alarming window onto the warm future of global oceans.
A double rainbow over Midtown Manhattan, seen from West New York, New Jersey after storms on Monday, June 19, 2017. (Credit: Taka Shiraishi)
As severe storms were moving away from New York Harbor last Monday evening, a beautiful double rainbow encircled the area. Perhaps Mother Nature was celebrating the start of NYC Pride Week?
What is a rainbow?
Author Donald Ahrens in his text Meteorology Today describes a rainbow as "one of the most spectacular light shows observed on earth". Indeed the traditional rainbow is sunlight spread out into its spectrum of colors and diverted to the eye of the observer by water droplets. The "bow" part of the word describes the fact that the rainbow is a group of nearly circular arcs of color all having a common center.
You can’t make this stuff up. On the first day of summer, a Northern Lined seahorse was found in a seine net while seining along Sandy Hook Bay, downstream from New York City and located near the entrance to New York Harbor. An exciting way for sure to start the summer season.
Who would have thought seahorses could exist here, an estuary with the most developed coastline in America. The sight of a small aquatic animal, a captivating symbol of estuaries, brought smiles to everyone’s faces. Many pictures were taken as proof they do in fact live here, along with some selfies of course. Thankfully the little fish was able to survive the star treatment before being released back safely into the bay to live out its life, albeit a little bit wiser perhaps to keep away from fishing nets.
Seahorses appear almost as mystical creatures, like unicorns and fairies, with a head like a horse and a tail like a monkey. But seahorses are real, and they really do exist in New York Harbor.
This little sea creature was probably hanging out along a piling, foraging on small shrimp and plankton with its long, tubular snout before being ensnared in a seine net. Seahorses are voracious eaters. An adult can consume 30 to 50 shrimp a day
The Northern Lined seahorse is the only native seahorse living in New York Harbor. Yet it has a much broader ranger that extends from Nova Scotia to South America, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
During the summer, seahorses prefer to live among seaweed, pilings, piers, sponges, or any solid structure in shallow waters around New York Harbor. During the winter, seahorses will migrate to deeper waters in the bay.
Who knows how many seahorses live in New York Harbor? Since Northern Lined seahorses are able to change color and camouflage their body to suit surroundings and backgrounds, they are able not only to hide from predators, but from marine scientists as well.
What we do know is that adult male and female seahorses are monogamous, and often form strong pair bonds after courtship. During reproduction, the female will lay her eggs into the male’s brood pouch, where they are fertilized and incubated. Dad will take care of the eggs for approximately two weeks before hatching. The male will then release 100 to 300 tiny, fully formed seahorses into the estuary. Juveniles are less than one-quarter of an inch long and will quickly be independent and take on the lifestyle of an adult seahorse. But it’s not an easy life. Less than one in a thousand will survive long enough to become an adult due to large aquatic predators.
Even adult seahorses face many threats. Since seahorses are generally poor swimmers, they can be an easy catch when found. They frequently move slowly and rely on their dorsal fin beating at 30 to 70 times per second to propel it along. Pectoral fins either side of the head help with stability and steering.
According to The Seahorse Trust, the top worldwide threats to seahorses include:
Trawling is another major threat to seahorses. Every year, trawlers drag up an area of seabed twice the size of the continental U.S., catching millions of seahorses and other fishes and destroying vital habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, estuaries, and seagrass beds.
Please protect our seahorse population in New York Harbor. Don’t buy them as pets, don’t buy dead seahorses as souvenirs and don’t buy medicine made from seahorses. To find out the top 10 ways to help seahorses, please check out this website by SeaMonster.
It’s finally here. Welcome to summer!
Summer arrived today, June 21, at 12:24 am EDT. The summer solstice officially marks the start of the summer season.
It’s the day when those of us living in the northern hemisphere will experience the most daylight of the calendar year. Around New York Harbor the longest day of the year is over 15 hours of sunlight.
At noon today, the Sun will also be located at the highest point in the sky around New York Harbor at about 73 degrees 30 minutes above the horizon. That is as high as the Sun will ever get around New York Harbor. The Sun has been getting higher and higher in the sky ever since the winter solstice back in December and through the spring vernal equinox in March.
The Sun will produce its maximum solar input to the atmosphere in June, but it does not exert its greatest influence on surface temperatures until July and August. This is when the cumulative effect of the sun’s heating peaks.
The summer solstice is not caused by the Earth being closer to the sun (as some people incorrectly believe), but by the orbit of Earth and its angle of orientation as it rotates around the Sun. The Earth is tilted on an axis at about 23.44 degrees. When the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun, the days are longer and the sun is high in the sky.
At this same time, the southern half of the Earth is tilted away from the Sun now. People living in southern Argentina are getting ready for winter. Six months later, the northern hemisphere will be tilted away from the sun and the days are shorter and the sun is low in the sky, and we will have winter.
The seasons are based on the Earth’s journey around the Sun, with the four quarters of the orbit determining the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
Get outside and enjoy the summer weather. It will not last long. The astronomical summer will end on September 22.
Watch Seals Being Released At Sandy Hook
One of the injured seals was bitten by a shark. Another was found in Barnegat Bay, where it had been hit by a motor boat.
By Carly Baldwin (Patch Staff) - Updated June 16, 2017 12:07 pm ET
SANDY HOOK GATEWAY NATIONAL RECREATION AREA — The Marine Mammal Stranding Center released four seals back into the ocean at Sandy Hook this past Monday, said center director Bob Schoelkopf.
Monday's release was actually the third seal release the group has done this month, and always at Sandy Hook. They've released 14 seals total so far in June. The center, based in Brigantine, takes in injured seals from all over New Jersey, rehabilitates them and then releases them back into the wild. They choose Sandy Hook for the release because it is remote and usually uncrowded.
One of the injured seals had been bitten by a shark. Another was found in Barnegat Bay, where it had been hit by a motor boat. "We had to amputate its flipper off," he said. "We felt pretty bad about that one."
The Kayak Fishing Classic was held at Jamaica Bay, New York the third weekend in May and the 320 competitors were treated to good fishing and pleasant weather.
Held at Floyd Bennett Field in Queens, the Classic is the largest kayak fishing tournament in the Northeast. Pre-fishing started on Thursday, and the tournament officially started at noon on Friday. Competitors arrived throughout the weekend and turned the tarmac at Floyd Bennett field into a miniature city with tents, campers, and plenty of barbeques.
Often referred to as the Woodstock of kayak fishing, the tournament is as much about hanging out and meeting other anglers as it is about the fishing. Competitors came from just about every northeastern state and from as far away as Georgia. Evenings were spent comparing fishing strategies and sharing food and beverages. I was fortunate enough to sample fluke sushi and homemade smoked sausage all in the same meal!
The plot seen above is a record of changing sea levels in the tidal estuary and harbour of New York City. Note the steady rise through the last century.
The fight against climate change: four cities leading the way in the Trump era:
New York City, Houston, Miami and San Francisco have all taken steps to mitigate the risks associated with rising sea levels and global temperatures. Are their successes a blueprint for action at the state and local level?
by Oliver Milman in New York, Joe Eskenazi in San Francisco, Richard Luscombein Miami, and Tom Dart in Houston
Wholly unintentionally, Donald Trump may have sparked unprecedented determination within the US to confront the danger of climate change.
Following Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the president was assailed by businesses ranging from Facebook to Goldman Sachs for risking America’s economic and environmental standing. The White House was choked by phone calls from irate voters.
Perhaps most significantly, a coalition of lawmakers, companies and universities swung into action in an attempt to reassure the world that the US wasn’t completely abandoning the field.
Within this group committing itself to the Paris targets are 17 governors – two of them Republicans – and 125 cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, which was cited, somewhat mistakenly, by Trump as somewhere that would benefit from exiting the Paris agreement.
With the federal government casting off the task of emissions reduction, the onus is now on cities and states to make up the shortfall. We look at what four major US cities – New York City, Houston, Miami and San Francisco – are doing to stave off the threat of climate change.
Increasing phenological asynchrony between spring green-up and arrival of migratory birds
Understanding whether and how species are able to adjust and adapt to climate change has become one of the most urgent challenges facing ecology. Climate change is projected to drive hundreds of bird species to extinction and greatly reduce the ranges of others1, 2, and is already impacting species richness and composition3. Despite these impacts, in recent decades a majority of species examined have shifted the timing (phenology) of key ecological events, such as migration or reproduction4, consistent with expectations under climate change5. For instance, birds appear to be laying eggs earlier6, especially among populations experiencing greater increases in temperature7. Earlier arrival of migrants on breeding grounds has also been reported8, 9, mirroring advances in spring vegetation phenology10.
More important than whether birds are shifting their phenologies is whether these shifts adequately compensate for a changing climate and resulting shifts in avian food resources that drive fitness. Individuals and species might be able to adjust rapidly: phenotypically plastic behavioural responses can track environmental conditions closely11, and even evolutionary changes in migratory behaviour which are generally expected to be much slower can occur rapidly12. Migratory birds, given their ability to rapidly move long distances, might appear to be among the most adaptable animals to climate change. Migration itself is partly an adaptation to intra-annual changes in climate, so additional inter-annual climatic changes might seem not to pose a problem for further adaptation. However, onset of long-distance migration in birds is primarily cued by physiological responses to photoperiod—which is annually consistent—yet conditions at their breeding grounds depend on climate—which is annually variable13, 14. To maximize fitness, birds must time their breeding phenology (including arrival on breeding grounds, breeding, egg laying, and fledging) to coincide with optimal habitat conditions and food availability. This means there is evolutionary incentive to correctly anticipate breeding site conditions while birds are still at their winter grounds, often thousands of kilometers distant. As climate at the breeding grounds changes, birds may be unable to adjust wintering ground departure times and transit speeds sufficiently to match their arrival with altered breeding resource phenology, particularly leaf growth and the closely associated emergence of herbivorous insects.
Arriving too early at breeding grounds can bring risk of freezing (due to cold temperatures) and hatching chicks before peak resource abundance, whereas arriving too late can mean fewer nest sites, fewer mates with successfully guarded territories, and declining resource abundance15, 16. As such, the loss of synchrony between insect emergence and migrant bird arrival phenology17, 18 can be accompanied by negative fitness consequences including reduced reproductive output and juvenile survival19, 20. The decoupling of the phenology across trophic levels can ultimately lead to population declines and biodiversity loss20, 21. Beyond impacts on birds, phenological asynchrony between birds and their insect prey can generate novel trophic cascades: for instance, a lack of predation on insects can cause insect outbreaks and subsequently increase defoliation of trees22.
A juvenile species of river herring found along Cliffwood Beach, NJ
On Sunday, June 11 from 10am to 3:30pm, the annual “Seine the Bay Day” event took place. Juvenile fish and shellfish and other small fish were the stars of the show for the spring edition of Seine the Bay Day along the southern shore of New York Harbor, downstream from New York City.
For the past several years, the all-volunteer Bayshore Watershed Council has been conducting a seining survey of Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay in Monmouth County, NJ at the start of the summer season to find out what species survive in these rich tidal waters. The catch included many juvenile and young-of-the-year fish (species that were born or emerged from eggs this past spring). Each young sea creature provides hope for the future.
As in years past, surveys were conducted at four locations: Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen Township, the fishing beach along Front Street in Union Beach, the beach in Port Monmouth near the mouth of Pews Creek , and the beach near the mouth of Many Mind Creek in Atlantic Highlands.
A 50-foot-long net with buoys on top and weights on the bottom was hauled by watershed volunteers through murky waters and pulled towards the shore. Caught in the net was anything swimming or walking along the shallow edge of the bay.
The catch of the day were huge schools of juvenile river herring, which is a collective term that refers to alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis). River herring are anadromous fish. They spend most of their lives in the ocean, but come spring they return to freshwater to spawn in tributaries of both the Hudson and Raritan rivers. Commercial and recreational anglers prize both the Alewife and Blueback Herring as baitfish for larger fish, including Striped Bass, and to make pickle herring for later consumption. Many larger birds and fish also rely on herring as a food source. If herring disappear entirely, their larger predators such as striped bass, blue herons, and osprey also become at risk. Seining along the shores of Raritan Bay show that the area of Cliffwood Beach to Union Beach is an important springtime nursery for juvenile river herring.
There is no doubt the more watershed members conduct these public seining events, the better picture people get of the bay. Seining is a method of taking the pulse of a local ecosystem. It's a way to gain an insight into the health of the near shore environment where many people swim and enjoy the bay.
When Squirrels on the Fire Escape Become Family
Photographs by RETO STERCHI
Text by GREG HOWARD
JUNE 8, 2017
The New York Times
Reto Sterchi and his wife, Cortney Buczkowski, live in Astoria, in a second-floor apartment with a large fire escape overlooking an alley. They furnished the escape with rugs and pillows to lounge on. Eventually, wind tumbled the pillows and rugs over one another into a pile on the landing. Last fall, two squirrels burrowed underneath.
Mr. Sterchi first started photographing the squirrels — running along nearby power lines, balancing on the rail — to show their friends. They soon realized that one was male, with a small notch in his ear. They named him Chip. The other had a noticeably short tail. They called her Little Tail.
“They lived with us the whole winter,” Ms. Buczkowski said. The squirrels packed their den with leaves and branches and dug tunnels to come and go. The couple put out food for the squirrels. (Pecans were their favorite; Cheerios less so.) The squirrels were intelligent. Whenever Ms. Buczkowksi lifted the screen, they ran down the power lines to the window, expecting food. The couple began thinking of their wild neighbors and photo subjects as members of the family.
Chip and Little Tail disappeared once winter broke. But in early May, Little Tail returned. She had two babies in tow.
A temperature reading near Sandy Hook Bay, NJ on Tuesday afternoon, June 13, 2017
Summer is still a week away from officially starting, but we are getting a good taste of hot weather. The second heat wave of spring has arrived to the New York metropolitan region.
The first heat wave of the year occurred during mid-May, when temperatures climbed to new record highs in many areas. On Thursday, May 18, Central Park reached 91 degrees F and broke the old record of 90 degrees set in 1936. Newark set a new record of 91 degrees F, and Islip, NY tied a record reaching 89 degrees F, which tied the record of 89 previously set in 1977. It was one of the earliest heat waves on record for the region.
Now the second heat wave of the year is here before the official start on summer on June 21, making this year the earliest New York City has ever seen two heat waves in spring since record keeping began in 1868. Another record-challenging heat wave to deal with around New York Harbor.
On Tuesday, June 13, the high temperature in New York City was 96 degrees, and Newark hit 99° at 1:23 pm breaking the old record of 98° set in 1961. Islip Airport broke a record when it hit 93 degrees just before noon, breaking the old record of 92 set in 1988. One of the hottest spots though, was LaGuardia Airport. It had a record high temperature of 101 degrees.
There wasn’t even any relief along the Jersey Shore. The high temperature in Atlantic City on Monday, June 12, was 94 F, breaking the record of 93 degrees set in 2016. Not much of a record, but still a hot day at the beach.
As heat waves go, this certainly wasn’t the worst. The heat wave with the highest average high temperature was the ten-day heat wave of July 1977. Its average high was 97.1°, thirteen degrees above average. It was made famous by New York's infamous blackout, which happened on the first day of the heat wave. The high temperature on the final day reached 104°
Relief will come to close out this current heat wave after the third day, when high temperatures on Wednesday are predicted to be in the 70s. But this heat wave will surely not be the last of the year. We should expect more intense weather due to climate change. Temperatures always seem to be moving upward.
According to National Weather Service, the United States had the 8th warmest and 11th wettest spring on record. The average spring (March-May 2017) temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 53.5 degrees F, 2.6 degrees above average, making it the 8th warmest spring on record. From the Rockies to East Coast, most of the seasonal warmth occurred during the early and middle parts of spring.
The average spring precipitation total was 9.39 inches, 1.45 inches above average, making this spring the 11th wettest on record.
The year to date (January through May 2017) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 47.0 degrees F, 3.7 degrees above the 20th-century average. This YTD period was the second-warmest on record for this period.
Dangerous clinging jellyfish found in N.J. river
BY ROB SPAHR
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Updated on June 8, 2017 at 4:39 PMPosted on June 8, 2017 at 6:42 AM
The jellyfish with a dangerous sting that caused a scare on the Jersey Shore last summer, prompting the cancellation of several events, have reappeared in a Monmouth County river, researchers say.
Clinging jellyfish - whose sting can cause "excruciating pain", muscle weakness and serious medical problems, including kidney failure - were observed and recorded in New Jersey for the first time last June, specifically in the Manasquan and Shrewsbury rivers, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
As a result, the DEP and Montclair State University initiated a sampling plan to assess the abundance of jellyfish in New Jersey waters.
A pair of sampling sessions in those rivers, as well as northern sections of the Barnegat Bay, yielded no results, the DEP said.
On June 2, however, 17 small adults were found at sampling locations in the Shrewsbury River.
It’s that time of year again around New York Harbor. Long, black fuzzy caterpillars with a white stripe down the back, and brown and yellow lines along the sides, are seeking a leafy meal.
The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, have left their messy silken tents, often built in the crotches of tree limbs, and are now wandering everywhere - on walkways, on the ground, over plants, and in trees for food. They love wild cherry trees, which the New York metropolitan region has a lot of, apple, and crabapple trees too. They will also munch on the leaves of maple, peach, pear and plum. They emerge to feed on leaves in the early morning, evening, or at night when it's not too cold.
Though annoying to people, usually trees can tolerate a few caterpillar attacks. The little critters are native, and local trees have learned to deal with an onslaught of fuzzy tent caterpillars. A healthy tree or shrub can generally tolerate a total defoliation without suffering permanent damage. A tree will usually recover and put out a new collection of leaves before long. In the meantime, trees will look a bit bare by excessive defoliation.
But wild nature is not always pretty. Tent caterpillars are just doing what they have been doing for countless years, long before modern people came along and started squashing the poor critters on driveways, sidewalks, and courtyards.
Those hairy caterpillars will eventually become a reddish-brown moth with two pale white stripes lined diagonally down each forewing. Once the caterpillars are done eating and have enough energy, they will spin a cocoon. About three weeks later, out pops an adult moth. But most people never notice the little moth, as they emerge during late June or July when all the caterpillar action is over.
Moths, though, have an important job. They need to give birth to the next generation of tent caterpillars. They will mate and females begin to lay eggs in mass on small branches, between 150 to 400 eggs per branch.
The eggs will hatch next spring, when a new crop of fuzzy little caterpillars will emerge to wander away individually in search of protected areas to spin a cocoon. Caterpillars from two or more egg masses may unite to form one large colony. These insects are social; and a silk cocoon will act as a protected home for the petite caterpillars. During the heat of the day or rainy weather, the caterpillars remain within the silken nest to feel safe and snug as a bug in a silk rug.
Only one generation of eastern tent caterpillars develops each year. So enjoy the fuzzy feeding frenzy now, because it will not last long.
Tale of 2 Tails: Why Do Sharks and Whales Swim So Differently?
By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer |
May 20, 2017 11:45am ET
The graceful whale swims by undulating its wide tail up and down. And so does the shark, right?
Like other fish, sharks swim by moving their tails side to side. So, why do these two marine creatures — the shark and the whale — swim in such different ways? [What's the World's Largest Whale?]
Whales move their tails up and down because they evolved from mammals about 50 million years ago, said Kenneth Lacovara, a professor of paleontology and geology and the dean of the School of Earth & Environment at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
"When quadrupedal [four-legged] mammals run, their spine flexes up and down," Lacovara told Live Science. Whales retained this anatomy, which allows them to gallop underwater, so to speak, Lacovara said.
The oldest known relation in the modern whale lineage is Pakicetus attocki, a four-legged, wolf-size mammal that likely had webbed feet. P. attocki lived on the edges of a shallow ocean and chowed down on fish about 50 million years ago, Live Science previously reported.
Now the federal flood program faces no less than an existential threat. As seas rise, coastal floodplains are expected to expand, exposing more property to routine flooding, surge, and waves. By some estimates, hundreds of thousands of U.S. houses could be underwater by century’s end and a trillion dollars worth of property at risk.
How Rising Seas and Coastal Storms Drowned the U.S. Flood Insurance Program
Sea level rise and more severe storms are overwhelming U.S. coastal communities, causing billions of dollars in damage and essentially bankrupting the federal flood insurance program. Yet rebuilding continues, despite warnings that far more properties will soon be underwater.
BY GILBERT M. GAUL • MAY 23, 2017
Yale Environment 360
Long Beach Island is the largest and richest barrier island in New Jersey, an oasis of sprawling oceanfront retreats and second homes located midway down the state’s heavily developed coast, a two-hour drive from the metropolitan centers of New York City and Philadelphia. On a clear day, visitors in the southern end can see the shiny facades of the Atlantic City casinos rising like obelisks across Great Bay. In the north, historic Barnegat Lighthouse towers over an unruly inlet steadied by boulders stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. In many places, the long, slender island is barely a few feet above sea level. And like most of New Jersey’s coast, it has been eroding for decades, leaving it vulnerable to flooding and rising seas.
Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pumped more than ten million cubic yards of sand from offshore dredges to widen Long Beach Island’s beaches and dunes – part of a Sisyphean-like effort to protect the island’s $15 billion of high-calorie real estate. But there is a problem. The sand keeps washing away. A series of storms over the last two years gouged the neatly groomed beaches, costing tens of millions in additional repairs. When all is said and done, the project will cost more than half a billion dollars, most of the money paid by U.S. taxpayers.
Like other barrier islands up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Long Beach Island is drowning in slow motion. Over the last century, researchers estimate that the ocean and bays that flank the island have risen by about a foot. That doesn’t sound like much, but the added water has made a huge difference in life on the island. Barnegat Bay now routinely washes over the bulkheads and floods the streets. Occasionally, school buses have to wait for the water to recede to pick up or drop off children. Even more worrisome, the rising water makes it easier for storm surge and waves to do more damage in violent storms such as Hurricane Sandy, which wrecked Long Beach Island and the back-bay communities in Ocean County in October of 2012.
It doesn’t happen all at once and sometimes not at all, but when it does it happen, it’s a particularly beautiful thing. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is in bloom, at least around my town.
Come May and early June, as many different Rhododendrons and azaleas come into bloom, the often overlooked Mountain laurel, a close relative of rhododendrons and azaleas, comes into flower at different places around New York Harbor. An individual plant is picky and selective, and does not bloom every year.
But when it does bloom it gives forth a delicate star-shaped or white and pink saucer-shaped fragrant flower. Certainly one of the most beautiful flowers from a native North American shrub. A member of the heath family.
This shade-tolerant shrub has been delighting people for centuries. Mountain laurel was first recorded growing in American forests in 1624. The plant was brought to Europe as an ornamental plant during the 18th century where it is commonly cultivated for its eye-catching flowers even today.
In the eastern United States, Mountain laurel can still be found growing profusely alongside mountains and atop rocky ridges. It can also be discovered growing in high altitude places around New York Harbor, including the Navesink Highlands and the hills of Staten Island. This large shrub is also part of the beautiful flower displays that takes place at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden every spring. Mountain Laurel can be spotted as well in the Discovery Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and Native Flora Garden. Additionally, it is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Look for the flowers quickly. Mountain laurel does not bloom for long. Once it’s gone you will have missed an infrequent flower and a rare natural event.
Every spring, Atlantic brant (Branta bernicla hrota), New York Harbor’s smallest goose, is busy getting ready for a demanding breeding season up north. The birds are active nearly all the time eating sea lettuce, preening and getting flight muscles in shape by flying low around the harbor.
The brant’s name comes from the Germanic Old Norse word “brandgas,” meaning “burnt goose,” which refers to its blackish-gray appearance with white feathers underneath and white feathers that resemble a tiny necklace. Brant are different from Canada geese, which are more frequently found around airports and in suburban parks and golf courses. Brant are typically seen foraging for food in estuarine waters or along the shore.
Come May, one by one, the birds begin to gather in large flocks of up to 1,000 or more in Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, Jamaica Bay, and other nearby brackish areas. Our brant are part of the approximately 181,000 that winter in large flocks along the Atlantic Coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina, according to a 2002 NJ Fish & Wildlife study.
New Jersey Fish & Wildlife also tell us that on average 70% of wintering brant occur in New Jersey, with the south shore of Long Island having the second largest winter population. New York Harbor, nestled right in the middle between New Jersey and New York, is a critical overwintering location for many tired and hungry brant.
By Memorial Day weekend, these bay geese are off for breeding grounds in the high Arctic. It’s a long migration over 700 miles, flying nearly non-stop for several days and at altitudes of several thousand feet above much of northeastern Canada. The birds will nest in chilly coastal tundra of the high Arctic on Baffin Island, Southampton, and on other islands west of northern Hudson Bay.
Feds threaten shutdown of N.J. fishery as showdown escalates
Updated on June 1, 2017 at 5:34 PMPosted on June 1, 2017 at 4:41 PM
BY MICHAEL SOL WARREN
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Call it the Great Flounder War of 2017.
A simmering battle between New Jersey recreational fisherman and the federal agency governing fishing along the Atlantic Coast has now escalated -- with potentially disastrous consequences for the fishermen.
In a teleconference on Thursday morning, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) officially found New Jersey to be out of compliance with federal regulations. The decision follows months of wrangling between the two sides, casting shadow over the opening of summer flounder (sometimes called fluke) fishing season.
The matter is now headed to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross for a final decision. If Ross agrees with the recommendation, both recreational and commercial fluke fishing could end up banned altogether in the Garden State.
The clash began in February, when the ASMFC announced stricter rules for fishing fluke coast-wide in order to address overfishing worries. The ASMFC called for a a 19-inch minimum on fishes caught, with a three fish limit per trip over a 128-day season.
New Jersey's Marine Fisheries Council immediately pushed back and created its own rules as a compromise: a shorter fishing season (104 days from May 25 to Sept. 5 -- 24 fewer days than were allowed in 2016), but an 18-inch minimum.
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