Why This Hurricane Season Has Been So Catastrophic
After Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we look at why this hurricane season has been so active.
By Michael Greshko
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Just as Hurricane Harvey wrapped up its devastation of Houston, Irma got into line behind it and quickly built into the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Now, Maria leaves a broken Caribbean in its wake: Dominica's rooftops and rainforests have been ripped to shreds, and Puerto Rico may be without power for months as a result of the storm. (Learn more about how hurricanes work.)
It’s hard to avoid comparisons to the last time two such powerful storms threatened U.S. landfall in the catastrophic 2005 hurricane season, 12 years ago.
As in 2005, when Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in rapid succession, the country is staring down the barrel of multiple hurricanes making landfall. In the face of multiple major storms, a reasonable person might wonder why this season seems worse for U.S. cities, and why the last dozen years brought fewer large hurricanes to U.S. shores.
If you have a question about this hurricane season compared with recent years, we’ve got you covered:
Yes, New York Harbor Has Sea Turtles too!
According to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, four different species of sea turtles are commonly found inhabiting the waters of New York Harbor and Long Island Sound during the summer months and early fall, where they feed on a variety of food, such as spider crabs, jellyfish, seaweed, and green crabs: Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles, and Leatherback Sea Turtles.
Watch for Sea Turtles when Boating this Fall!
BY MASS AUDUBON
| SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 |
On the Water Magazine
Your attention on the water and your concern can help save these threatened and endangered species.
There have been at least five loggerhead and two leatherback sea turtles killed by boat strikes in Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay over the past two weeks, and fishermen are being urged to please keep a close eye out for sea turtles. There are four species feeding in Massachusetts waters this time of year, and with fall fishing quickly approaching its peak, it increases the likelihood of sea turtle boat strikes.
You’re most likely to see leatherbacks and loggerheads. Leatherbacks are huge, 4 feet or more in length, dark, with fore-and-aft ridges on their upper shell. Loggerheads in our waters are usually 2 to 3 feet long, tan/brown with yellow/orange around their heads and flippers. Loggerheads often have barnacles and algae on their upper shell. Both species sometimes bask at the surface, and swim at or just under the surface. A small powerboat could easily kill a loggerhead or a huge leatherback, and there have been had numerous boat strike fatalities in recent weeks.
How Three Friends Proved That Jellyfish Can Sleep
By STEPH YIN
SEPT. 21, 2017
The New York Times
Worms and fish do it. Birds and bees do it. But do jellyfish fall asleep?
It seems like a simple question, but answering it required a multistep investigation by a trio of Caltech graduate students. Their answer, published Thursday in Current Biology, is that at least one group of jellyfish called Cassiopea, or the upside-down jellyfish, does snooze.
The finding is the first documented example of sleep in an animal with a diffuse nerve net, a system of neurons that are spread throughout an organism and not organized around a brain. It challenges the common notion that sleep requires a brain. It also suggests sleep could be an ancient behavior because the group that includes jellyfish branched off from the last common ancestor of most living animals early on in evolution.
The Ocean Flyway: The Surprising Open Water Routes of Songbird Migrations
BY JOE SMITH
SEPTEMBER 21, 2017
Cool Green Science
If you are fascinated with migration, it is a good time to be alive. Sophisticated tracking technologies are revealing migration routes and destinations that have long been inscrutable.
One recent revelation is that small songbirds are bypassing land and making direct flights southbound over the Atlantic Ocean during fall migration in September and October.
It’s an unlikely proposition that a bird that is only the weight of two sheets of paper would opt to fly between one and two thousand miles in a straight shot across open water. It would seem that the better bet would be to take a leisurely route over land where a safety net of habitat awaits below.
Blackpoll warblers, Connecticut warblers, bobolinks and perhaps other species all make this paradoxical choice, setting off across a watery abyss as they make their way to winter destinations in South America.
Sea Turtles Appear to Be Bouncing Back Around the World
By JOANNA KLEIN
SEPT. 20, 2017
The New York Times
On this planet, so many plants and animals are disappearing that scientists worry we’re experiencing a sixth mass extinction. Many of these organisms are taking hits from a variety of angles — habitat loss, climate change and more — that it’s hard to get a grasp on how to stop their declines. Conservation success stories are rare.
But sea turtles may be an exception, according to an comprehensive analysis of global sea turtle abundance published Wednesday in Science Advances.
Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of international researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines. Their research helps clarify why some conservation and research groups have reported both increases and decreases for individual nesting sites over the past decade.
Young birds suffer in the city
September 8, 2017
City life is tough for young birds. But if they survive their first year, they are less susceptible to the effects of stress, according to research from Lund University in Sweden.
Life in a city constitutes both a threat and an opportunity for wild animals. Researchers at Lund University have now tackled this contradictory state in urban environments. They studied young and adult great tits in Malmö, Sweden, and compared their survival rates with the same bird species in rural areas.
What emerged was that great tits in the urban environment live in a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it is considerably tougher for birds to reach maturity in a city. On the other hand, if they do survive their first year, the negative effects decrease and the birds seem to be hardier.
"It seems that the various stress factors in the city do not affect the survival of adult individuals in the same way as they affect that of young birds", says Pablo Salmón, who is a research student in biology at Lund University.
September 19, 2017
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
New Method to Estimate Abundance, Detect Trends in North Atlantic Right Whales Confirms Recent Population Decline
Study confirms need for urgent action
NOAA Fisheries researchers and colleagues at the New England Aquarium have developed a new model to improve estimates of abundance and population trends of endangered North Atlantic right whales, which have declined in numbers and productivity in recent years. The findings were published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
Between 1990 and 2010, the abundance of North Atlantic right whales increased just under three percent per year, from about 270 animals in 1990 to 482 in 2010. After relatively steady increases over that time, abundance has declined each year since 2010 to 458 animals in 2015. The analysis shows that the probability that the population has declined since 2010 is estimated at 99.99 percent. Of particular concern is decline of adult females in the population, estimated at 200 in 2010 but 186 in 2015, the known deaths of 14 North Atlantic right whales this year, and the widening gap between numbers of males and females.
"Although our work directly reveals a relatively small decrease, the subtext is that this species is presently in dire straits,” said lead author Richard Pace
Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense
Date: September 7, 2017
Source: American Geophysical Union
Summary: Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research.
A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.
The difference in lightning activity can't be explained by changes in the weather, according to the study's authors, who conclude that aerosol particles emitted in ship exhaust are changing how storm clouds form over the ocean.
The new study is the first to show ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity. The researchers conclude that particles from ship exhaust make cloud droplets smaller, lifting them higher in the atmosphere. This creates more ice particles and leads to more lightning.
Autumn Equinox around New York Harbor is on
Friday, September 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm EDT
Even though it happens year after year, the arrival of autumn is always a little surprising. Almost as if on a switch, one day late in the summer you feel it – a subtle crispness in the air. And before you know it, it’s pumpkin-spice-everything everywhere. We are suddenly swathed in sweaters and wearing boots and bombarded by shades of orange, often even before the thermometer warrants it. After slogging through a long hot August, it's exciting.
We can thank the autumnal equinox for this shift from sultry summer to cozy fall. And while most of us are aware of when the first day of autumn lands on the calendar, there’s more to the equinox than meets the eye. Consider the following.
1. This year, 2017, the autumnal equinox arrives precisely at 4:02 pm (EDT) on Friday, September 22. Unlike an event such as New Year’s midnight that follows the clock around the time zones, equinoxes happen at the same moment everywhere.
2. There are two equinoxes annually, vernal and autumnal, marking the beginning of spring and fall. They are opposite for the northern and southern hemispheres – so for those of you in the south, happy spring!
3. The autumnal equinox happens the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator, which is an imaginary line in the sky that corresponds to Earth’s equator. (Old Farmer's Almanac describes it as a plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere.) Every year this occurs on September 22, 23, or 24 in the northern hemisphere.
4. From hereon, nights are longer than days and days continue to get shorter until December, when the light will begin its slow climb back to long summer days. Winter solstice is technically the shortest day of the year, while the summer solstice in June boasts the most sunlight.
Satellite imagery shows that Jose is a large storm, with a large reach. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured cloud top temperatures of Tropical Storm Jose that revealed the strongest storms were in the northeastern part of the tropical cyclone but the storm is so large that it is causing dangerous ocean conditions from Bermuda to the U.S. East coast.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) from the center. Despite the strongest side facing away from the coast, dangerous surf and rip currents expected to continue for several more days along much of the east coast of the United States.
On Sept. 20, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach, including Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island.
Globe sees 2nd warmest year to date, 3rd warmest August on record
Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage remains at near-record lows
September 18, 2017- The final days of August signaled summer’s end for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. So, how did this summer compare to others?
For the entire globe, both August and the season (June, July and August) each went down as the third warmest on record. But depending on where you live, the summer you experienced may have felt warmer or cooler than normal.
Let’s dive deeper into our monthly analysis for the fuller picture:
Climate by the numbers
August 2017 was 1.49 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degree F. This was the third highest in the 1880-2017 record, behind 2016 (highest) and 2015 (second highest). This marks the 41st consecutive August and 392nd consecutive month with global temperatures at least nominally above average, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Seasonal | June through August 2017
The seasonal global temperature for June through August was 1.46 degrees F above the average of 60.1 degrees F — the third highest for this period in the record, trailing 2016 (highest) and 2015 (second highest).
Year to date | January through August 2017
Looking at the year to date, the global temperature was 1.58 degrees F above the average of 57.3 degrees F, the second highest for this period in the record after 2016.
The Bird Watcher: As hawks fly south, here's where to witness the splendor
Jim Wright, Special to The Record
Published 8:00 a.m. ET Sept. 6, 2017
The next two weeks will bring what North Jersey raptor lovers have awaited for months: the spectacular sight of migrating broad-winged hawks. Why not join the fun?
These handsome hawks have a long history of heading south through our region in mid-September by the thousands on their way to Mexico.
North Jersey and nearby New York offer great hawk watches where you can watch the migration free of charge, with the help of official observers who keep count of the broad-wings and other species of migrating raptors.
Broad-wings — relatively small, stocky hawks with striking black-and-white striped bands on their tails — aren’t the only attraction. You could see anything from ospreys and bald eagles to hummingbirds and monarch butterflies.
The return of a native New Yorker: whales
By Nina Agrawal
August 18, 2017
Los Angeles Times
On a gray summer afternoon a double-decker ferry cruised around New York’s Rockaway Peninsula as rain drove down in sheets. Undaunted, the passengers, including 8-year-olds from Brooklyn celebrating a birthday, looked out the windows, hoping to glimpse their quarry.
A voice came over a weak microphone. “You’re going to help all of us find whales,” Catherine Granton said.
Yes, whales. In New York.
Granton told the passengers to look for whitecaps, where whales might be breaking the water’s surface.
Granton is an educator for the nonprofit Gotham Whale, which, together with American Princess Cruises, has been tracking humpbacks off the coast of New York City since 2011, after fishermen began reporting sightings. To date, the organization has cataloged 60 individual humpback whales in the area.
The whales aren’t alone. Dolphins and seals are now commonplace in New York Harbor, and a project to restore oysters to what was once known as “the oyster capital of the world” is yielding new oyster reefs in the New York-New Jersey estuary.
“What’s happening is they’re returning to waters that they frequented in the past,” Granton said.
USA threatened by more frequent flooding
Researchers show that the East Coast of the USA is slowly sinking into the sea
Date: September 11, 2017
Source: University of Bonn
Summary: The East Coast of the United States is threatened by more frequent flooding in the future. According to this study, the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are most at risk. Their coastal regions are being immersed by up to three millimeters per year -- among other things, due to human intervention.
Cities such as Miami on the East Coast of the USA are being affected by flooding more and more frequently. The causes are often not hurricanes with devastating rainfall such as Katrina, or the recent hurricanes Harvey or Irma. On the contrary: flooding even occurs on sunny, relatively calm days. It causes damage to houses and roads and disrupts traffic, yet does not cost any people their lives. It is thus also known as 'nuisance flooding'.
And this nuisance is set to occur much more frequently in the future. At least researchers from the Universities of Bonn, South Florida, and Rhode Island are convinced of this. The international team evaluated data from the East Coast of America, including GPS and satellite measurements. These show that large parts of the coastal region are slowly yet steadily sinking into the Atlantic Ocean.
"There are primarily two reasons for this phenomenon," explains Makan A. Karegar from the University of South Florida, currently a guest researcher at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn. "During the last ice age around 20,000 years ago, large parts of Canada were covered by an ice sheet. This tremendous mass pressed down on the continent." Some areas of Earth's mantle were thus pressed sideways under the ice, causing the coastal regions that were free of ice to be raised. "When the ice sheet then melted, this process was reversed," explains Karegar. "The East Coast has thus been sinking back down for the last few thousand years."
Surf’s Up in the Rockaways? Let’s Meditate on That
By COREY KILGANNON
SEPT. 3, 2017
The New York Times
The Rockaway Summer House is not your typical Buddhist retreat center.
“Most retreat centers are out in the middle of nowhere, but we chose this location because it’s on the outskirts of the city, where it’s quieter and more peaceful, but it’s also accessible by subway,” said Bhante Suddhaso, 31, the resident monk who leads meditation and teaches principles of Buddhism at the house.
The center, in a Spanish-style house in the Arverne section of the Rockaways, has Jamaica Bay on one side and the ocean on the other, both short walks away.
During breaks, attendees may walk to the ocean. The center offers meditation sessions and wellness and yoga classes on the beach, where the sound and presence of the ocean is “a constant reminder of the impermanent, ever-changing nature of life,” Mr. Suddhaso said as he sat in the backyard with Giovanna Maselli, 36, with whom he opened the retreat house in December.
In addition to reiki, acupuncture classes and workshops, the center also offers surfing-themed meditation classes, open to experienced surfers, as well as beginners who may rent boards, said Ms. Maselli, whose own surfboard leaned against a wall nearby.
Both surfing and meditation have a “being in the moment” mind-set, she said, adding that, “It’s very difficult to think about anything else when you’re riding a wave.”
By Joe Reynolds
It was the first weekend after Labor Day. The sky was sunny and blue, the air was breezy with a northwest wind. Air temperatures were chilly for this time year, reaching only into the lower 70s.
I was spending part of the weekend kayaking in the Naveisnk River, an approximately eight mile long tidal river in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It was a beautiful day paddling near the mouth of the river, not far from where the Navesink River meets the Shrewsbury River and drains into Sandy Hook Bay.
On a small sandy island is where I discovered a break-out event.
Several Northern Diamondback terrapins had newly hatched out of eggs. The little reptiles must have emerged from their sandy nest only a few days before.
Diamondback Terrapins are unique among the turtle world. Most turtles live exclusively in either freshwater or saltwater. Diamondback terrapins, however, are the only turtle known to live its entire life-cycle within brackish or tidal waters. It is truly an estuarine loving creature.
During late spring and early summer, female Diamondbacks will wait in estuarine waters for a high tide to reach its highest point in order to find a nesting place that is above the high tide line and covered with very small amounts of beach grass, since it can be difficult to dig in the sand with too many roots. Females will dig their nests up to 6 inches deep and lay about 8 to 12 eggs per nest. Since Diamondbacks do not have X or Y chromosomes like humans do to determine a baby's sex, the gender of a young terrapin is determined by temperature during nest incubation. Eggs that are sustained at high temperatures above 86 degrees give birth to girls, and eggs incubated at lower temperatures hatch boys.
Come late summer, young terrapins are hatching out from eggs laid along the sandy coast during the spring or summer. Generally, it takes about 60 to 120 days for eggs to hatch.
Unfortunately, it's not easy being a small diamondback terrapin. People often refer to these miniature turtles, which are only about the size of a quarter, as "Sea Gull Potato Chips." Birds, such as gulls and crows, and small mammals, such as foxes and raccoons can often be seen moving about the coastline and lower dunes to seek out nesting terrapin sites and hatchlings. A baby terrapin then has to quickly crawl with its small legs to advance into the water and escape being gobbled up. As you can imagine, a good percentage of hatchlings don't survive. I have seen one study in Cape May County, NJ that reported up to 40 percent of nest sites were destroyed by predators.
I’m hoping most if not all of the little terrapin hatchlings from the Navesink River will make it. They will not have much time, though, to get used to their surroundings. The little turtles will have to hurry up and eat and eat, and get ready for winter. Terrapins hibernate in the winter. The first cold temperatures of the season are a signal for these turtles to bury themselves in mud. Body functions will slow down to the point where terrapins do not need to come up to breathe until the arrival again of spring.
For more information about Northern Diamondback Terrapins, check out the book entitled, Diamond in the Marsh, A Natural History of the Diamondback Terrapin by Barbara Brennessel, published by the University of New England, 2006.
Also, check out the website devoted Diamondback Terrapin conservation from the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ: wetlandsinstitute.org/conservation/terrapin-conservation/20-years-of-terrapin-conservation-and-research/
By Joe Reynolds
You never know what you might find while throwing a casting net into the water. This time around it was a fish I had never seen before or ever knew it survived in New York Harbor.
Sheepshead minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus Lacepede 1803) are part of the Killifish family, Cyprinodontidae. A large family of over one thousand different small, stout, hardy fish that are consumed worldwide as food by large fish and wading birds; and handled as bait by many anglers.
I found this unexpected fish while wading in the tidal waters of the Navesink River last weekend, near where the river meets the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey. I was throwing an 8-foot casting net in a shallow, muddy tidal pool to see what I might find. Among the many Striped killifish within the net were several juvenile Sheepshead minnows.
Of course at the time I didn’t know what I had. A strange short fish with a thick-body, a high arched back, a flat-topped head, and a thick square tail. After taking numerous pictures of the fish and doing some on-line research at home, I uncovered the strange fish to be a Sheepshead minnow. A new fish for me. I have never heard of a Sheepshead minnow before.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the native range for Sheepshead minnows is from the coastal waters of Massachusetts to the Yucatan Peninsula of northeastern Mexico; and also the West Indies, including the Bahamas, Grand Cayman Island and Jamaica.
It’s a fish that seems to prefer warm waters, but is hardy enough to withstand some degree of cold water. The Uncommon Guide to Common Life on Narragansett Bay tells us that Sheepshead minnows “during the winter months…burrow in the mud, lying dormant during the cold weather. Like killifish, they can withstand the large changes in oxygen levels, temperature, and salinity conditions that are commonplace in coastal salt marshes.”
A favorite field guide of mine, Fishes of Chesapeake Bay, tells us even more. The fish is abundant in Chesapeake Bay, “where it frequents shallow flats, marshes, and tidal ponds during the summer months and retreats to channels or burrows into the silt in marsh ponds in the winter….It is a hardy species that has been found from freshwater to water with salinities exceeding 90%.” The authors go on to describe a fish that likes travel in “large schools, swimming near the shoreline and entering marshes during high tide.”
Sheepshead minnow will eat a variety of foodstuff. Their favorite foods are plant material, algae, and detritus, but will also forage for mosquitoes, and small crustaceans and smaller fish.
In 1953, Henry B. Bigelow and William C. Schroeder authored the Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, a series of books, which was part of the US Fish & Wildlife’s Fishery Bulletin. The report had a page devoted to Sheepshead Minnow. After writing a general description about the fish and its habits on page 165, the authors concluded:
“This fish, like many others, finds its northern limit at Cape Cod and would not deserve mention here at all were it not recorded from the Cape by Storer. West and south of Cape Cod, however, as at Woods Hole, it is common enough in suitable situations. We have seined many of them with Fundulus at the head of Buzzards Bay.”
At this time, I cannot find any mention of the fish existing in New York Harbor or nearby local waters. But the Sheepshead minnow seems to be here now, and perhaps it has been for many years. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this fish within our busy and bustling urban/suburban waters.
On Sunday, September 10 from 10:00am to 3:30pm, the annual late summer edition of “Seine the Bay Day” event took place. Juvenile fish, baitfish, and shellfish were the stars of the show on several bay beaches along the southern shore of New York Harbor, downstream from New York City.
Since 2011, 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 end of the summer season to find out what species live in these rich tidal waters. 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 spearing or Atlantic silversides in many locations. This is an important forage fish for larger fish including striped bass and bluefish, as well as for wading birds. The other notable catch was several young-of-year (yoy) silver perch or sand perch found near the mouth of Many Mind Creek in Atlantic Highlands. This was the first time this species was encountered in any Seine the Bay Day event. The silver perch is a small drum with a silvery body and yellowish fins. It is commonly found in Chesapeake Bay, where it lives year-round, mostly in shallow waters from spring to autumn.
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 water.
Meet Finn, the latest great white shark being tracked off Jersey Shore
Updated on September 5, 2017 at 11:39 AM
Posted on September 5, 2017 at 11:38 AM
By Spencer Kent
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A youthful great white shark has surfaced off New Jersey's coast.
Finn -- a young, roughly 12-foot, 80-pound female great white -- surfaced off the coast of Belmar and Asbury Park on Tuesday at 8:34 a.m., according to a real-time GPS tracker monitored by OCEARCH, a nonprofit group which researches great whites.
Finn -- tagged by the group in August -- has traveled nearly 50 miles in the last 72 hours, and made its entry into the ocean waters of New Jersey on Sunday, according to the group's tracker. Finn has since moved further off shore.
LOOKING FOR LOVE IN THE RIGHT PLACES
Posted on August 23, 2017 By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Today we hear from Elizabeth Rogers, with the National Park Service at Fire Island National Seashore in New York State. Elizabeth spent some time this spring and summer working as a Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sharing the stories and science of resilient coastal communities and systems. On her days off, she can be found exploring the outdoors or dabbling in the kitchen.
Millions of people come to beaches along the Atlantic Coast every summer to swim, stroll, and sunbathe. Piping plovers, federally protected beach-nesting birds, return to sandy stretches from Newfoundland to North Carolina each year to look for love.
When it comes to finding the right place to nest and raise their young, piping plovers are picky. Nests are often found along the upper beach in sparsely vegetated areas of sand, pebbles, or shells above the high tide line.
Ideal nesting habitat has long been identified and protected with string fencing at federal, state, and local parks across the Northeast. Until recently, however, there was little information to help land managers understand the importance of local nesting habitat within the broader range of this species.
Two studies funded through Hurricane Sandy relief aid are helping to change that.
Join members of the all-volunteer Bayshore Watershed Council on Sunday, September 10, 2017 for Seine the Bay Day!
The event is FREE! Bring a friend or bring your family.
Seine the Bay Day is an annual late summer event. Volunteers will help drag a long net (called a seine net) through the water to discover what awesome sea creatures live in the shallow part of the bay. The catch is never the same; we may catch juvenile fish, shrimp, or even baby puffers or seahorses in the net. It will be a fun day.
Times and locations can be found below. Rain or strong winds will cancel the event.
Seining team members will be citizen scientists. All fishes, crabs, and other aquatic creatures will be identified, measured, and cataloged; and returned to the water.
In addition, watershed members will collect water temperature and turbidity information; and document the tidal stage, and note the aquatic vegetation in the area.
We will conduct this late summer seining survey at four (4) sites along Raritan Bay & Sandy Hook Bay. Below are locations & times. High tide is around 11:00am.
Aberdeen Township NJ/Cliffwood Beach - meet in the gravel parking lot near the beach entrance along Ocean Blvd. (Incoming tide)
Union Beach NJ/Conaskonck Point - meet in the gravel parking lot where Front and Dock streets meet. (High tide)
Middletown Township NJ/Port Monmouth - meet in the gravely parking lot across from the Monmouth Cove Marina on Old Port Monmouth Road. We will seine near the mouth of Pews Creek. (outgoing tide)
Atlantic Highlands NJ/Mouth of Many Mind Creek - meet at the end of Avenue A, near the beach entrance to the bay. On-street parking only. (outgoing tide)
Published September 6, 2017 08:08 AM
No ice to break
Our research cruise is being conducted this year from the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the newest and most technologically advanced icebreaker in the U.S. fleet. The Healy was built down around the humid bayous of New Orleans, but was designed to conquer Arctic sea ice. The boat is a behemoth at 420 feet long and has made its way to the North Pole on several occasions, taking thousands of scientists into the Arctic to collect data that has transformed our understanding of the region.
Something has changed though in the last few years. The Healy has been having a hard time finding any ice to break. The average sea-ice extent in June 2017 was 350,000 square miles smaller than the long-term historical average. That represents a loss of sea ice almost twice the size of Texas.
The opening of the Arctic is allowing increased commercial ship traffic and in 2016, for the first time, more than 1,000 passengers sailed on the Crystal Serenity from Anchorage to New York through once ice-choked waters. The cruise ship is making the same voyage this year. While the Healyhas been responsible for patrolling the Arctic, its mission is expanding as fast as the ice is disappearing. The ship and its more than 80 crewmembers will be the first responders to any disaster in the Arctic, from vessel emergencies to oil spills.
By Joe Reynolds
Have you heard it? Screech owls have been busy recently.
I heard a few calling the other night. Eastern screech owls are telling other screech owls, especially young owls, to back off from their territory. Starting in late August or September, adults re-establish their winter-feeding territories from older and more self-sufficient offspring that are seeking territories of their own for the winter.
Many young owls by now have become competent hunters and are ready to move on to their own territories. Yet, young screech owls do not migrate and move relatively short distances away from the location where they were raised. Most yearling screech owls are found only a mile or two from their birth area.
So adults need to force the kids away by calling, which effectively tells everyone this space has been taken, move along. But here is the thing, the eastern screech owl really doesn’t screech all that much. This time of year, its primary territorial calls are a horse-like whinny and a long tremulous trill.
I often hear the whinny call. It’s only about two seconds long and is used primarily to defend territories. The monotonic trill and whinny call of eastern screech owls are their most frequent vocalizations, particularly during late summer and early fall when young are dispersing and seeking their own territories.
Open your windows or take a walk outside at night. You too might hear the faint, sort of tenderly heads-up call of a screech owl.
Or perhaps you might find another soft sign a screech owl is nearby - an empty birdbath. If you filled a birdbath during the day and it’s completely empty in the morning, it may have been a screech owl taking a bath and visiting your property at night.
Otherwise, these birds are silent and secretive forest creatures. They blend in extremely well to a wooded environment. Except for their nighttime calls, eastern screech owls leave very little sign they are around
Looking though a juvenile windowpane flounder with a flashlight. The stomach and spine can clearly be seen.
By Joe Reynolds
Although the friendly flounder from the classic Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, will probably not be found swimming around New York Harbor, there are several fascinating flounders or flatfish that do throughout the year. These fish are normally anything but sociable.
Carnivorous bottom-dwelling thin creatures often found solitary on the bottom of the bay or estuary waiting for potential prey to ambush. They have voracious appetites and will strike at a shrimp or other prey when they get too near a flounder’s face.
Winter flounder have small mouths, and summer flounder or fluke have large mouths with sharp teeth. Both are sizeable flounders highly prized by anglers. There are also little brown flounders known as hogchokers, not exactly a friendly title. Legend has it this flat fish got its quirky name from farmers who used to feed it to hogs or pigs, but often had difficulty swallowing the fish’s bony body and would choke on the fish’s rough scales. I don’t know who to feel worse for, the pigs or the fish.
Another flounder with an interesting name living around New York Harbor are Windowpane flounders or sand flounders. Its curious name comes from young windowpanes being so thin-bodied they appear transparent, enabling a curious person to easily recognize the fish’s internal organs, such as the outline of the stomach.
I’m not kidding. The fish is so slim and skinny that if you hold up a juvenile fish to a light source you will be able to see clear through it. Like looking through an opaque glass window.
Although these unique flatfish have less muscle than most other flatfish, windowpanes are not malnourished or feeble and should never be confused as a juvenile fluke. Windowpanes have evolved and adapted to living on the bottom of sandy bays by blending in extremely well to their surroundings. Being the color of silt and sand they blend in perfectly well with their undersea environment.
SEA BRIGHT DELIGHTS IN PRESENCE OF MORE PIPING PLOVERS
August 25, 2017
By Liz Sheehan |
The Two River Times
SEA BRIGHT – Piping plovers, the federally threatened and endangered shorebirds, are enjoying their summer on the borough beachfront.
According to Christina Davis, an environmental specialist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, 56 pairs of plovers have been tabulated in the area: 42 at Sandy Hook, 10 in Sea Bright and four in Monmouth Beach.
Davis said the borough has the highest number of plovers among municipalities in the state. The town “is off the charts,” she said.
Piping plovers breed only in North America and have been listed as threatened or endangered around the country since December 1985, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website. The plovers are small shorebirds, about 7 inches long, with sand-colored plumage on top and white underneath, sporting black bands around the breast and black markings on the head.
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