BY Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
No need to worry! Those are not dead crabs. Pollution or disease did not kill them.
Generally speaking, what you are finding on bay beaches around New York Harbor during late summer are not dead crabs, but molts or castings. When a young horseshoe crab grows, it sheds or molts its outer skeleton (or shell), similar to a blue-claw crab.
When a juvenile crab is done molting, the old shell is basically washed up onto the beach with the tide. The result is an artifact that looks exactly like a tiny horseshoe crab for people to stumble upon. It's evidence of what is living in nearby waters.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife:
“Since horseshoe crabs have a hard shell, they must molt to grow. Horseshoe crabs will molt at least six times in their first year of life and about 18 times before they reach sexual maturity. Females are generally larger than males and may molt more than males to reach the larger size. Once crabs are sexually mature, which takes at least nine years, they won’t shed their shells again. When the male crab completes his final molt, his first set of claws becomes modified into a boxer-glove shape that he uses to clasp onto a female for spawning. Adult crabs may live another eight to 10 years, making the total lifespan of a horseshoe crab as long 20 years.”
The horseshoe molts several times during its first year and may reach a width of about 1/2". After its third or fourth year it sheds its skin annually, mostly near a full moon in August around New York Harbor.
How can you easily tell if a crab shell is a molt or if a crab is dead? If the shell is light in color and lightweight in feel, then it's probably a molt. If the shell is dark brown in color and has heavy feeling, it is probably a dead crab.
A dead crab on the left and a molt on the left. The dead horseshoe crab has two large cracks or gashes in its outer-skeleton.
If you do find what appear to be a long line of lifeless crabs washed up on the beach, contact state wildlife organizations as soon as possible. Loads of dead crabs on a beach cmight be an indicator of a serious water quality issue.
In New York State, please contact the New York Department of Conservation at http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/259.html
In New Jersey, please contact the Department of Environmental Protection at http://www.nj.gov/dep/warndep.htm
Different size molts found on a beach around New York Harbor in August 2017.
Rescuers treating shark-bitten seal found on Jersey Shore beach
Updated on August 25, 2017 at 4:32 PM
Posted on August 25, 2017 at 6:36 AM
By Craig McCarthy
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
SANDY HOOK -- The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is caring for a seal found on a Sandy Hook beach with a huge gash from a shark bite.
The rescue group based in Brigantine said in a Facebook post that the gray seal's weight is "excellent" but it still may take a few months to heal and able to return to the sea.
Rangers from the Sandy Hook Gateway Park alerted the stranding center of the injured seal on Wednesday.
The stranding center is seeking donations to help with the seal's rehabilitation. The group estimates that a typical seal rehab costs $2,500, but the severity of the shark bite wound will likely keep this seal at the center for several months
It's a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly
Michael E Mann
Monday 28 August 2017 10.07 EDT
What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane Harvey? There are certain climate change-related factors that we can, with great confidence, say worsened the flooding.
Sea level rise attributable to climate change – some of which is due to coastal subsidence caused by human disturbance such as oil drilling – is more than half a foot (15cm) over the past few decades (see here for a decent discussion). That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.
In addition to that, sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5C (close to 1F) over the past few decades from roughly 30C (86F) to 30.5C (87F), which contributed to the very warm sea surface temperatures (30.5-31C, or 87-88F).
There is a simple thermodynamic relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation that tells us there is a roughly 3% increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5C of warming. Sea surface temperatures in the area where Harvey intensified were 0.5-1C warmer than current-day average temperatures, which translates to 1-1.5C warmer than “average” temperatures a few decades ago. That means 3-5% more moisture in the atmosphere.
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
Sunbathers at Sea Bright, NJ, a small seaside community located near the entrance to New York Harbor, got a sad surprise last Sunday morning as they looked out to the Atlantic Ocean. A dead sea turtle was floating in the water.
People knew something was weird when they started seeing several rescue boats around 9:30 a.m. from the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office all converging in the same area out in the ocean. It’s unusual to see so many rescue boats in the same location when there isn’t a person to rescue.
To add even more excitement, at approximately 11 a.m. lifeguard staff from Sea Bright beach went out with a jet ski and a surfboard to tow the poor creature far out to sea. This activity caused a stir among beachgoers and made for an interesting late summer show.
All this action made me wonder though if any local wildlife organizations had been notified, including the Marine Mammal Stranding Center of NJ or Sea Turtle Recovery. Both non-profit organizations are trained and authorized by the federal government to deal with sea turtle strandings and are dedicated to educating the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles and ways to protect their future.
I doubt Sea Bright lifeguard staff are trained to deal with wildlife problems, especially with dead sea turtles. Towing a wild animal out into the ocean didn’t seem sensible, because the poor sea creature will eventually just float or drift to another nearby beach following the longshore current. In my opinion the turtle should have been picked up and taken for a necropsy to help indicate what caused the animal’s death. Now the exact cause of its injuries are lost to time and tides.
Viewing the animal from the beach it seemed pretty evident the turtle got badly banged up either when it was alive or dead. There was an extensive cut in its carapace (shell) near the head and the turtle was not moving at all. The head was always sunk below the water. The poor animal was dead and starting to rot. Most likely gases were accumulating inside the body to make the turtle float.
Al Gore: Trump has failed to knock Paris climate deal off course
Former US vice president says the US will meet its climate commitments in spite of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the global agreement
Friday 11 August 2017 08.51 EDT
Donald Trump has failed to knock the Paris climate agreement off course despite his efforts to derail it, according to the former US vice president Al Gore.
“The US will meet its commitments [on emissions] in spite of Donald Trump,” he said in London, where his new film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was released on Friday. “Every other country has pledged [to combat climate change]. I think the psychological message is that the train has left the station. The signal sent to investors, businesses, individuals and civil society is extraordinarily powerful.”
He said the US president was now isolated and unable to prevent global action on climate change, despite his announcement of the US’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris agreement.
The Daddy Longlegs: Creepy but Harmless
By DAVE TAFT
AUG. 11, 2017
The New York Times
Watching a daddy longlegs meet his end in a Brooklyn spider web was a recent reminder that these graceful, somewhat creepy creatures are not spiders at all.
The delicate arthropod set out to cross the lines of a web that had been laid out to snare a meal among the grasses in a field. He was not more than an inch or two into the trap when his long legs telegraphed his plans to the web’s resident.
A brownish spider tracked down the vibration and deftly delivered his lethal bite, the calling card of most true spiders. Though spiders and daddy longlegs (also known as harvestman spiders) are both arachnids, they are not closely related.
Still more evidence that aquatic species do not appreciate or even tolerate human-induced noise in the water.
But loud industrial noise is exactly what will happen in the Atlantic Ocean if President Trump has his way. The U.S federal government is proposed to approve 5 Incidental Harassment Authorizations which would allow Seismic blasting in the Atlantic, harming over 138,000 marine mammals and innumerable amount of essential fish, invertebrate, and zooplankton species.
Find out more about Seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean at Clean Ocean Action's website
Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise
Date: August 17, 2017
Source: University of Queensland
Summary: A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.
University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science's Dr Rebecca Dunlop said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.
"The study, titled The Behavioural Response of Humpback whales to Seismic Surveys (BRAHSS), involved an air gun array -- as used for oil and gas exploration," Dr Dunlop said.
Associate Professor Michael Noad from UQ's Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory (CEAL) was also part of the whale-noise study's international team of researchers from Curtin University, University of St Andrews, Sydney University and Newcastle University.
Dr Dunlop said it was unknown if, and how, the whales would also respond to the presence of the vessel towing the array as well as the array itself.
Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish
Date: August 10, 2017
Source: Newcastle University
Summary: Increased noise pollution in the oceans is confusing fish and compromising their ability to recognise and avoid predators.
Researchers at Newcastle University (UK) found that European sea bass experienced higher stress levels when exposed to the types of piling and drilling sounds made during the construction of offshore structures.
The fish also showed signs of being confused when they encountered a potential predator while exposed to these underwater noises. When researchers played recordings of piling sounds and mimicked an approaching predator, the seabass made more turns and failed to move away from the predator.
When exposed to drilling sounds the sea bass actively avoided these areas, spending more time in what the research team called the 'safe zone'.
The fish also took longer to recover from exposure to the underwater sounds.
Lead researcher Ilaria Spiga explained: "Over the last few decades, the sea has become a very noisy place. The effects we saw were subtle changes, which may well have the potential to disrupt the seabass's ability to remain 'in tune' with its environment.
Never look directly at the sun during the eclipse without appropriate eye protection. And no, sunglasses don't count.
Phases of the Eclipse for NYC
1:23 pm – Start
2:44pm – Peak of totality (71% coverage)
4:00pm – End
On the afternoon of August 21, the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking out the Sun for about 3 minutes in a swath of North America stretching from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. While New York is not in this “path of totality,” we will be able to see the Moon cover about 75% of the Sun. Join us in the Rose Center for Earth and Space for NASA’s live broadcast of the Total Solar Eclipse and learn more about this rare celestial event.
Come prepared! Purchase Eclipse Glasses: Resources for solar filters and solar eclipse viewing
Can't join us? Watch from home!
New technique offers clues to measure the deoxygenation of the ocean
Date: August 9, 2017
Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summary: The living, breathing ocean may be slowly starting to suffocate. More than two percent of the ocean's oxygen content has been depleted during the last half century, according to reports, and marine 'dead zones' continue to expand throughout the global ocean. This deoxygenation, triggered mainly by more fertilizers and wastewater flowing into the ocean, pose a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems.
The living, breathing ocean may be slowly starting to suffocate. More than two percent of the ocean's oxygen content has been depleted during the last half century, according to reports, and marine "dead zones" continue to expand throughout the global ocean. This deoxygenation, triggered mainly by more fertilizers and wastewater flowing into the ocean, pose a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems.
Yet despite the critical role of oxygen in the ocean, scientists haven't had a way to measure how fast deoxygenation occurs -- today, or in the past when so-called major "anoxic events" led to catastrophic extinction of marine life.
Now, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Arizona State University, and Florida State University have, for the first time, developed a way to quantify how fast deoxygenation occurred in ancient oceans. The research was published Aug. 9, 2017, in the journal Science Advances.
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature
Have you checked any meadows lately? Surprise, you might find a small green triangle face with large eyes looking at you.
Praying mantises are active around New York Harbor during the summer and early fall. I found a few the other day perched atop some coneflowers in my yard.
This insect is easily recognized by the way it often sits motionless atop a plant stem waiting for a meal. They love to eat small insects, including butterflies and moths, but will also try to catch flies, crickets, grasshoppers, and even small birds, mice, and tree frogs. These little critters have no fear, and are tough, fearsome hunters. A Praying mantids has large front legs that are highly mobile and armed with rows of sharp spins for quickly impaling its next victim. A green body also helps to camouflage the little insect to make it easy for a mantis to hunt for prey during the day.
But these little critters don't live long. The typical lifespan of a praying mantis is six months, maybe a year if one is lucky. This means most of their lifespan is devoted to eating and reproducing as quickly as possible over the summer and fall.
Praying mantises have an interesting way to mate, which the male may or may not survive. Often the female mantis eats the head of the male. After mating she feeds on the rest of male’s body to have energy to create eggs. The female mantis usually dies after laying eggs.
But before she goes, up to 400 eggs will be laid by a single female mantis just before winter. Eggs are laid on a firm leaf or stem with a liquid that hardens to be a protective sac structure known as ootheca, which is able to survive winter weather. Come mid-spring as temperatures warm, nymphs will hatch from egg cases.
It's not an easy life being a young Praying mantis. Nymphs are vulnerable as prey to large predators including bats, birds and spiders. Not all nymphs survive this stage. Fortunately, they do get bigger quickly. The molting process ends at the beginning of summer, when the insect has grown to be a mature adult. Full-grown mantises are normally between 1 to 6 inches in length.
Praying mantises get their common name for their upright position, a stance that makes them seem to be praying. But these little green insects do more than quietly mediate. A single Praying mantis helps to organically keep harmful garden pests in check and to maintain ecological balance in nature around New York Harbor. Have you thanked a Praying mantis today!
President Trump's repeal on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 of Executive Order 13690 to remove critical safeguards intended to ensure that federally funded infrastructure projects are planned and constructed appropriately to take into account hazardous flood areas is a huge mistake. Executive Order 13960 required that a determination of areas at flood risk be based on the best available and actionable science, and on FEMA's Federal Flood Risk Management Standards (FFRMS). This action was intended to ensure that taxpayer dollars would not be wasted on infrastructure or residences located in areas that experience repeated flood inundation. Taking flood risk into account when allocating these federal dollars would have minimized the cycle of build-flood-rebuild, thereby protecting lives and reducing recurring post-flood cleanup and reconstruction costs.
If you lived through Hurricane Sandy's devastation, then you know this decision can be deadly and destructive.
Trump infrastructure push rolls back environmental rules
AUGUST 15, 2017 / 12:55 PM
Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled back rules regarding environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas as part of his proposal to spend $1 trillion to fix aging U.S. infrastructure.
Trump's latest executive order would speed approvals of permits for highways, bridges, pipelines and other major building efforts. It revokes an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change.
"It's going to be quick. It's going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn't meet environmental safeguards, we're not going to approve it - very simple," Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York.
President Trump promised in his election campaign to press for widespread deregulation to spur business spending. The former New York real state developer has complained that it takes too long to get permits for big construction projects.
A pair of young Blue fish or snappers recently caught at Hudson River Park during a Big City Fishing event.
Fishing in New York City? You bet! Each summer, Hudson River Park offers Big City Fishing, a free program, to those as young as five who are eager to learn both how to fish and about the Hudson River environment.
Sundays, 11-3pm on 6.4 – 10.15 on Pier 25 at N. Moore St.
Sundays, 11-3pm on 7.2 – 8.27 on Pier 84 at W44th St.
Mondays, 5-7:30pm on 7.3 – 8.21 on Pier 25 at N. Moore St. & Pier 63 at W23rd St.
Japanese Knotweed is not only invading Staten Island, but many areas of New York and New Jersey. The plant is highly invasive and reduces species diversity, alters natural ecosystems, and negatively impacts wildlife habitat. Once established, populations of Japanese knotweed are extremely persistent and hard to eradicate. But while difficult, it is possible.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.-- A pretty Asian plant is a growing problem all over New York City and has invaded Staten Island green spaces and private properties.
Japanese Knotweed, an Eastern Asian plant that was popular until the 1950s because it's attractive and grows rapidly, is invasive enough to break through concrete and disrupt foundations, said NYC Parks worker Joe Cutler.
"It's all over New York City," said Cutler. "You have to keep digging up the roots for two years until you can finally contain it."
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
Sanderlings (Calidris alba) are small sandpipers, about seven inches tall and weighing in at just two to three ounces. These plump little shorebirds are often seen around New York Harbor from late summer through late spring skittering up and down a beach like a quick moving wind-up toy being chased by endless waves. Along the way the birds will stick their beaks into the sand to probe for food within the wet sand, mostly sand crabs, young razor clams, marine worms, and other small invertebrates.
Sanderlings are one of the most common shorebirds in both New York and New Jersey. Yet, seeing one with a tag or a band on its leg is a sporadic and interesting sight, especially during the summer.
As first reported in my blog, New York Harbor Nature, I spotted a single sandpiper foraging for food near the tip of the Sandy Hook peninsula, close to the entrance of New York Harbor. It was an adult Sanderling in breeding plumage with two noticeable bands on its pure black legs – a lime green tag on one leg and a small silver band on another. Where did those unique leg bands come from?
To find out I immediately reported my sight at www.reportband.gov, a website run by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Scientists here provide numbered leg bands to bird banders and help manage vast databases of bandings and recoveries in both the United States and in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service of many different species of birds.
It took several weeks, but the other day I received an email from the USGS with information about where the shorebird was banded. Similar to what the Birding Dude reported in his blog about the sight of a banded Sanderling at Breezy Point, NY in 2016, my Sandy Hook, NJ bird was banded as well around Bowers Beach, Delaware Bay.
To be specific, the Sanderling was banded last year, on May 23, 2016 near South Bowers Beach, in Kent County, Delaware, located right along Delaware Bay, and south of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The bird hatched in 2014 or earlier. Unfortunately, it’s sex or where it hatched is unknown.
Like many other shorebirds of New York Harbor, Sanderlings do not nest or breed here. They make long winged journeys to breed in the High Arctic, far above the Arctic Circle on remote rocky, treeless islands, often near lakes or ponds. Sanderlings will make pit stops around New York Harbor to feed and rest as they migrate in-between breeding sites and over-wintering areas.
A picture of an adult Sand Tiger Shark taken by the blog author at the Norwalk Aquarium
Why a New York Bay Is Crucial to Baby Sand Tiger Sharks
By Merry Camhi, Wildlife Conservation Society
July 28, 2017 04:01pm ET
Dr. Merry Camhi is director of the WCS New York Aquarium's New York Seascape Program, an initiative of the Wildlife Conservation Society. She has a doctorate in ecology from Rutgers University. Camhi contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Yes, it's that special time again — Shark Week, the Discovery Network's celebration of all things chondrichthyan, when sharks are on the air … andin our waters.
In urban New York City, mention "shark" any other time of year, people might think of lawyers, cards and loans. Most folks are surprised to learn that at least 26 species of sharks and 14 species of skates and rays (sharks' close cousins) ply the coastal and offshore waters of New York, especially from spring to fall.
As a native New Yorker, I may be a bit biased, but I think New York is a great place for kids to grow up, having raised two wonderful ones of my own here. Apparently, a number of these shark species think New York is a great place for their kids to grow up, too. [See Photos of Baby Sand Tiger Sharks]
Everything Worth Knowing About ... Sea Level Rise
How many cities will our oceans swallow?
By April Reese
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
New York: Officials are considering a $6.5 billion harbor wall to keep the water out. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed buying out residents in vulnerable areas and replacing their homes with wetlands and dunes to move people out of harm’s way and buffer the city against storm surges.
Imagine the Statue of Liberty, water lapping at her skirts. Or the Sydney Opera House, seawater filling its seats.
Coastal areas around the globe are losing ground to the sea — and faster than ever. In the past quarter-century alone, the ocean has risen an average of almost 3 inches.
With nearly half the world’s population living within 93 miles of a coast, and much of the globe’s commerce concentrated there, sea level rise looms as one of the greatest of all climate change threats.
Given the vastness of the oceans, it may be hard to imagine that warming seas and melting glaciers could raise sea levels enough to inundate thousands of miles of coastline. But adding an inch of water to a full bathtub can still soak the floor — it won’t take much to flood the world’s cities and ecosystems.
Sea Level Science
Unlike other climate issues, the science of sea level rise is fairly simple. Ocean levels are increasing mostly because of what heat does to water, in all its various states. As global temperature rises, most of the extra heat in the atmosphere — about 90 percent — sinks into the ocean. As the water warms, it expands, “just like mercury in a thermometer,” explains R. Steven Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. This thermal expansion accounts for one-third of sea level rise. The other two-thirds comes from melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
Rush Hour Pollution May Be More Dangerous Than You Think
July 21, 2017
In-car air study of commuting cars finds dangers to human health
By Ken Kingery
DURHAM, N.C. -- The first in-car measurements of exposure to pollutants that cause oxidative stress during rush hour commutes has turned up potentially alarming results. The levels of some forms of harmful particulate matter inside car cabins was found to be twice as high as previously believed.
Most traffic pollution sensors are placed on the ground alongside the road and take continuous samples for a 24-hour period. Exhaust composition, however, changes rapidly enough for drivers to experience different conditions inside their vehicles than these roadside sensors. Long-term sampling also misses nuanced variabilities caused by road congestion and environmental conditions.
To explore what drivers are actually exposed to during rush hour, researchers from Duke University, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology strapped specially designed sampling devices into the passenger seats of cars during morning rush hour commutes in downtown Atlanta.
The devices detected up to twice as much particulate matter as the roadside sensors. The team also found that the pollution contained twice the amount of chemicals that cause oxidative stress, which is thought to be involved in the development of many diseases including respiratory and heart disease, cancer, and some types of neurodegenerative diseases.
The results were published on June 27 in the journal Atmospheric Environment.
A young Piping plover observed recently at Sandy Hook, NJ
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature
Usually by the second week of August around New York Harbor Piping plover chicks have all fledged, which is the ability of a young bird to fly with muscles strong enough and feathers large enough for flight.
The young birds will need to learn to fly fast and firm. By early September many adults and young will all have departed for a long winged migration to wintering areas on tidal flats and sandy beaches down south, from North Carolina to Texas and along the coast of eastern Mexico and on Caribbean islands from Barbados to Cuba and the Bahamas. Many Piping plovers travel from breeding areas to wintering grounds in one long nonstop flight.
It’s not easy either growing up around New York Harbor. Piping plovers have many natural enemies including raccoons, foxes, crows, gulls and other birds and mammals who have a never-ending desire to feed on eggs, chicks and on an occasional adult bird. Storms, spring high tides and other tidal flooding events often wash away nests or drown young flightless chicks. People too can cause stress by getting exceedingly close to nesting sites during the breeding season or by leaving trash on a beach, which will attract raccoons, foxes and other hungry predators.
A Piping plover nest at Sandy Hook, NJ surrounded by sand bags to protect it from tidal flooding and within a wired cage to help protect the nest from predator attacks.
Typically, an adult female plover will lay and care for between 3 to 4 pale bluff eggs. But not all eggs will survive, and not all Piping plover chicks will survive to fledge. Usually only one chick will survive per pair every year, at best maybe two.
So it was with some excitement that I observed quite a few young Piping Plovers chicks doing alright. It was around mid to late July near the tip of Sandy Hook, located at the entrance to New York Harbor.
I saw about a half-a-dozen healthy looking chicks, all with flight feathers coming in, meaning flight was not far off. A really good sign.
The young plovers were foraging and feeding on their own, seeking small worms and other small marine invertebrates. Learning how to care for themselves and gaining strentgh.
One parent was still around to watch over the young birds, at least until they are fully-grown and able to fly on their own. Commonly the mother withdraws from a nest a few days after hatching and will leave the male to care for the young alone. The young are capable of sustained flight and considered to be fully grown or fledged at about 25-35 days of age after hatching.
Let’s hope this generation of Piping plovers raised around New York Harbor will help to rebound the population and contribute to increasing populations elsewhere.
But this will not be easy. While population numbers for last year are slightly up, there's still work to be done to get the birds off the endangered species list. The Piping plover is a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Along the Atlantic Coast and around New York Harbor it’s designated as a federally threatened species and state endangered in New York and New Jersey, which means the population would most likely decline if not protected.
Things You Can Do to Help Protect the Piping plover
By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature
Southbound migration for shorebirds starts early. The breeding season is short for birds that nest along the edge of the North Pole.
Many migratory shorebirds nest in the tundra, sometimes even above the Arctic Circle, where weather is unpredictable and often extreme. Here, there are primarly only two main seasons: a long, icy and dark winter lasting nine months and a very short, very cool summer lasting only three months. On the Autumn Equinox, approximately September 21, the sun sinks below the horizon, and the North Pole is in twilight until early October, after which it is in full darkness for the winter.
Birds respond to the quick arrival of winter and darkness up north by nesting early and completing the breeding season as soon as possible, before temperatures get too cold for food to be found. The first to migrate south are usually failed breeders, those with no chicks to support either from predation, severe weather or some other circumstance. Successful adult breeders may begin flying south by mid to late July.
The first to arrive around New York Harbor after nesting in the far north are usually the smallest member of the sandpiper family, Least Sandpipers, (Calidris minutilla). Sure enough I spotted a small number of birds last week on beaches around Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook and in the Navesink River.
Least Sandpipers breed in northern bogs on the tundra where they raise three to four young birds. The young are usually cared for by both parents at first, but the female usually leaves the nest early to migrate southward before the male, sometimes departing even before the eggs hatch to beat the cold weather. The male normally remains with young sandpipers at least until the juveniles can fly, usually 14 to 16 days after hatching.
Least Sandpipers, who generally stopover in New York Harbor during fall migration, frequently nest in eastern Canada and migrate to the southern United States or northern South America for the winter. But fall migration is not a mad rush. Without the need to breed, the migratory pace to wintering grounds is relatively leisurely by comparison to spring migration.
So the birds can stay a bit longer at pit stops along their migration path to rest and refuel. Southbound migration time for shorebirds is the perfect time for people to enjoy the sight of shorebirds as they fly through New York Harbor from now until perhaps as late as the beginning of December.
"New York and New Jersey’s big bays contain deep channels that act as superhighways for breeding and feeding sharks."
Shark fishing from shore is back in the limelight and improved tackle paired with daring tactics have allowed surfcasters to land monster sharks from the beach.
It was 1998. I had just moved to Normandy Beach, New Jersey, steps from the surf, and was putting in innumerable hours tangling with stripers and blues. One evening when bringing over fresh striper fillets to my neighbor, Jackie, her 85-year-old father, Buddy, opened a book of his old fishing pictures from the 1940s. As the pages turned, black-and-white photos of huge dusky and brown sharks weighing 100 pounds and more got my adrenaline flowing. Buddy spoke about beaching large and in-charge sharks. He hadn’t fished for more than 40 years, nobody seemed to think sharks swam in the Jersey surf anymore, and the idea of targeting them from the beach was lost to the sands of time. That is, until I saw those pictures.
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature
A unique mystery waited for me as I took a late afternoon walk near the tip of the Sandy Hook peninsula, in sight of the entrance to New York Harbor. On a warm mid-July Saturday with a light south wind and clear skies, I spotted a small thin sandpiper foraging for food among the surf and wet sand just above the low tide line.
But this was no common sandpiper. In fact, it was an adult Sanderling (Calidris alba) in breeding plumage with two noticeable bands on its pure black legs – a lime green tag on one leg and a small silver band on another. Immediately two questions rushed into my mind – where did this solitary and seemingly friendless sanderling come from and who banded the bird?
Sanderlings are common spring and fall migrants and winter residents around New York Harbor from Jones Beach and Jamaica Bay to Sandy Hook and Sea Bright. They form flocks of a dozen or more. Seeing several plump birds running up and down a beach is a familiar sight to beach goers and is usually no big deal.
Yet, seeing just one thin sanderling in mid-July with a tag is sort of enigmatic. What story could this small shorebird tell?
After taking several pictures and with tag numbers written down, I immediately went home to do some investigative work. First thing I did was to report my finding to www.reportband.gov, a website run by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Scientists here provide numbered leg bands to bird banders and help manage huge databases of bandings and recoveries in both the United States and in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service of many different species of birds.
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